The Facts
November 11, 2015

Land Use

Mining uses 0.1% of NSW land. By comparison agriculture uses 78% of land in NSW. Nature conservation, including National Parks and Nature Reserves, uses 7.6% of land in NSW. Forests account for 3.7% of NSW land. Urban and regional dwellings use 1.8%. (Source: Australian Collaborative Land Use and Management Program).

Mine Numbers

The number of operating coal mines in NSW has fallen from 61 in 2011 to 44 in 2015. Over this period mines have improved the efficiency of their operations through technology and innovation. Mines must meet a wide range of government standards and requirements before any mining can begin. These include a multi-stage assessment process before any mine is officially approved by the Government. (Source: Coal Services Pty Ltd; Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, 1979).

Mining Jobs

Mining directly employs more than 21,000 people at mines across NSW and supports tens of thousands of additional jobs in the mining supply chain. (Source: Lawrence Consulting and University of Wollongong, NSW Mining Economic Impact 2014/15).

Mining Restrictions

Mining is one of the most heavily regulated industries in NSW. Every mining proposal is subjected to a rigorous assessment process involving no less than 10 state and federal government agencies. Project proposals must always include a detailed land regeneration plan which is assessed by the government and scientists before any mining is allowed to commence. Once approved, a mining operation must meet hundreds of conditions and rules, including standards to protect the environment. (Source: Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979; Mining Act, 1992).

National Parks

Mining cannot happen in any National Park or Nature Reserve. The National Parks and Wildlife Act (1974) does not permit mining in National Parks or Nature Reserves. National Parks cover 7.6% of NSW. (Source: National Parks and Wildlife Act (1974); Australian Collaborative Land Use and Management Program).

Food Production

76% of NSW land is agriculture. 0.1% for mining. Australia produces three times more food than we consume. Each year we produce enough food to feed 60 million people. Most of the food we produce is exported. (Source: Australian Collaborative Land Use and Management Program; Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences).

Water Use

Mining uses just 1.5% of the total water used in NSW. Agriculture uses 66%. Some mines can recycle and reuse more than 80% of their water. Treated water is also shared with towns and redistributed to other water users to augment water supplies and reduce demand for fresh water. (Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics;
No Compulsory Land Acquisition

Mining companies cannot compulsorily acquire land for mining. The Mining Act 1992 also contains provisions so that land owners can refuse the granting of a surface mining lease on their land where it contains agricultural land or improvements such as houses. (Source: Mining Act 1992)

Mining and Agriculture

Mining and Agriculture can coexist and prosper. Miners across NSW lease out or manage land around their operations for a range of agricultural uses such as dairy farms, grazing, vineyards and horse breeding. One example is a dairy on land owned by Coal & Allied’s Bengalla Mine near Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley that produces up to 15,000 litres of milk each day from around 1500 head of cattle.

Land Owners' Rights
Land owners have extensive rights. At the exploration stage, land owners can negotiate the terms of exploration on their land. A non-negotiable part of any exploration contract requires explorers to rehabilitate any land explored. A security deposit must be lodged with the regulator before exploration can begin to ensure all rehabilitation is complete to specified standards.

If exploration leads to mining, landholders can refuse the granting of a surface mining lease on their land where it contains agricultural land or improvements such as houses . Some land owners impacted by mining can request the mining company to acquire their land. Land holders have rights to compensation for some impacts of mining activities. These rights and compensations are unique to mining. No other industry or development is required to meet similar conditions. (Source: Mining Act 1992; Mining State Environmental Planning Policy).

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