The future of CSG mining in NSW is officially as bleak as
we expected. Following the recommendations last
year, the Government has announced that it will impose a 2km
exclusion zone around residential areas to prevent new CSG
exploration, assessment and production activities. Exclusions zones
will also apply to industry clustersviticulture and the equine
In addition to creating exclusion zones, the reforms also
mandate all permit holders to have an Environmental Protection
Licence and charge the Environmental Protection Agency with
regulating all health and environmental impacts of CSG in NSW.
Further regulation on CSG mining near water catchments is also in
the works as the government considers protection for sensitive
environments such as the Sydney water catchment, the Northern
Rivers, Gloucester Valley, Southern Highlands and the Great
Artesian Basin aquifer.
Speaking of water, the Federal Government is looking at boosting
the Commonwealth's powers to boot CSG projects on environmental
impact grounds. The effect of the changes, if made, will be that
coal seam gas and large coal mining developments which threaten to
impact on a water resource will be required to undergo a federal
assessment and approval process under the Environment Protection
and Biodiversity Conservation Act. It is unclear what level of
threat to water will bring the assessment process into play.
The changes mean that the industry will face extra red tape. The
opponents of the reforms argue that the changes will increase
costs, which will hurt employment in the industry. It all comes
back to maintaining that delicate balance of sustainability and
economic wellbeing. In any event, we think that focusing on the
standards for effective well casing and minimal impact drilling
would be a far better use of everyone's time than an extra
round of ministerial review.
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It is a common misconception that the grant of mining tenure, whether it be an Exploration Permit, Mineral Development Licence or Mining Lease, will entitle the holder to access all land within it in order to explore or mine.
This briefing note sets out a likely structure for the proposed privatisation of the networks and identifies key issues.
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