A farmer in Bylong Valley is protesting against what he calls a loophole in the Mining Act that lets miners force ‘compulsory arbitration’.
Craig Shaw is in arbitration with Cockatoo Coal, oversees a mining exploration project in Bylong on behalf of Japanese power company KEPCO, who is looking to mine on his land.
Shaw said companies can just stall during the 28-day time limits specified in the Act to force the appointment of an arbitrator, according to the ABC.
He argues it is unfair for the farmers who are prepared to negotiate before then.
“So I was kind of gobsmacked to discover that the Director General, or the Minister and the Department, didn’t have any discretion at all in these matters,” he said.
“It was a matter simply of, ‘have they waited at least 28 days? Yes. Have you managed to agree on anything? No. Sorry, you’ve got to go to arbitration now. My hands are tied’.
“And if that is the case, the Act is crook and it needs fixing.”
Shaw is calling on the State Government to amend the Mining Act to fix how arbitration occurs.
“Remove the loophole for miners to play hard ball and effectively force a landholder to compulsory arbitration, no matter how good willed or how interested in negotiating that landholder is.”
Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham said he will propose the amendment to the Mining Act to NSW Parliament this week, saying landholders should have more power during access agreement negotiations
“We’ll be legislating to lock the gate. We will be removing the requirement for compulsory arbitration.
“That means farmers, landholders will just be able to say no to mining and gas companies and won’t be dragged into an expensive and stressful arbitration process that will ultimately lead to a miner coming on and exploring on their farm.”
He added landholders should be able to say no to arbitration if they wish.