BHP Billiton has announced that it plans to restrict coal exploration in the farming region at Caroona near Gunnedah.
According to NSW Minerals Council CEO Dr Nikki Williams, the announcement, which came after two years of geological research, proved that mining and agriculture could co-exist when applied with good science and sustainability processes.
Williams said the sensible and cautious approach applied to the Caroona exploration process had enabled miners, the local community and the government to arrive at a decision that protects the valuable Liverpool Plains farming region, while exploration will proceed in other areas of the coal-rich Gunnedah Basin.
“The extensive mapping and monitoring of the Liverpool Plains underground aquifer undertaken by mineral explorers, which will be shared with government and the local community, provides invaluable data to help inform future land use planning well into the future,” Williams said.
“The mining industry provides vital jobs and economic wealth to regional communities and enables other businesses, including agriculture, to prosper.
“It is a reality of our modern life that mining and agriculture are equally essential, so we must find smart ways using research, technology and sound planning to make the best use of our natural resources.
Regional communities throughout NSW benefit from the expanded range of services that follow the establishment of long term mining operations, such as telecommunications, rail, road and water infrastructure and government services such as health care, education and recreational facilities.
“Our industry regards as a top priority its responsibilities to the communities in which we operate, to listen to and respond to concerns appropriately. Many miners and their families live in these communities too.”
Williams said the NSW Minerals Council will continue to work with farmers groups and the government on strategies that achieve a sustainable balance between agriculture, mining and other important regional land uses.