The Supreme Court’s recent decision on land access agreements would effectively stop exploration and make it impossible to do business in NSW, according to NSW Minerals Council CEO Dr Nikki Williams.
“The decision of the Supreme Court in the Brown/Alcorn & Ancor v Coal Mines Australia Pty Ltd case will
have an extraordinary impact on business activity in NSW,” Dr Williams said.
“This is not a victory for landowner property rights as some are claiming. This decision will not achieve
better environmental outcomes. It will not improve the interaction of exploration activity with agricultural
land. What we will see is a complicated, convoluted bureaucratic nightmare that will make it impossible to
do business in NSW.
“The effects of this decision will set off a chain reaction reaching far beyond the mining industry. No one
will be immune.
“Red tape will wrap itself around every bank, building society, water supplier, gas network supplier,
electricity distributer and telecommunications provider. Each of these entities will need to establish a new
layer of administration, just so they can fulfil their obligation to comply with the judgement.
“Exploration, which is the essential pipeline to mining projects, will effectively cease. That means the
industry’s growth will be stunted with all that implies for declining State revenues. Last year the royalties
alone from these projects halved the State Budget deficit. The minerals industry also directly employs
more than 60,000 people in regional NSW.
“The problems are practical. For example, one small mining project in NSW is currently negotiating more
than 60 access agreements — that’s 60 land holders multiplied by all the banks and any party that has a
financial interest in the property, as well as each of the utility companies that have easements for access
to infrastructure. So instead of negotiating with 60 parties, we’re now talking about hundreds of
negotiations for a single project.
“The NSW Government, the Opposition and businesses should be very worried. They need to take action
now to avert this job destroying, wealth destroying minefield.”