Resources for regions criteria extended

Broken Hill, one of the oldest and most successful mining
towns in Australia, has finally been declared to be eligible for Resources for
Regions funding.

The NSW Resources for Regions program has also been extended
to include the mining communities of Cessnock and Maitland.

At present there are 11 local council areas that are
eligible to apply for funding from the allocated pool of $160 million.

Deputy premier Andrew Stoner made the announcement in
parliament yesterday, stating that changes to the eligibility criteria for
funding applications had been made to include three new regions.

“In this round, in addition to the eight local government
areas, Broken Hill is being recognised for the magnificent contribution of the
people of the far west, as are Cessnock and Maitland,” Stoner said.

“In its first four years in office this government has met
its commitment of contributing at least $160 million of funding towards
infrastructure for mining-affected communities.

Stoner said that the NSW Government has spent $9.5 million
on upgrades to the Ulan Road near Mudgee; $3.5 million on the redevelopment of
Black Bridge in Lithgow; $4 million on the Upper Hunter Tertiary Education
Centre; and $12.3 million on the Narrabri water supply augmentation project.

NSW Minerals Council (NSWMC) CEO Stephen Galilee said that
the expansion was a step in the right direction, but expressed his dismay that
other key mining communities were still not part of the funding program.

“Whilst today’s announcement is very welcome, it is
disappointing that some key NSW mining communities still remain ineligible for
the program,” he said.

“The NSW Minerals Council will continue to advocate for the
further expansion of Resources for Regions to include more mining-related
communities.”

The NSWMC has recommended to the state government that council
regions should be considered eligible to apply for funding if they have 1000 or
more mining employees, or if mining accounts for at least 20 per cent of
employment in the area.

“Expanding eligibility and funding for Resources for Regions
in this way would help mining communities get a fair return for the economic
windfall they deliver for NSW,” Galilee said.

Galilee also said that he hoped next month’s state budget
would significantly increase funding for the Resources for Regions program in
order to ensure its long term future.

“In NSW the vast majority of our workforce live and raise
families in the communities near where mining takes place,” he said.

“It’s therefore very appropriate that resources are invested
back into these communities to support our mining families.”

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