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Australia Liverpool Plains coal mine scrapped after NSW government pays Shenhua to walk away

09:55  21 april  2021
09:55  21 april  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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The NSW government has paid $100 million to put a stop to coal mining on prime agricultural land on the Liverpool Plains in the state's north-west.

The government has paid Chinese company Shenhua $100 million to withdraw its lease application for the Watermark open cut mine at Breeza near Gunnedah.

The Liverpool Plains boasts some of the best agricultural land in Australia and is considered the national food bowl.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said he personally negotiated the deal over the past six months.

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He acknowledged that the mine application, which received development approval, had "divided" the local community and caused "a lot of anguish".

"Today is your victory," Mr Barilaro said while making the announcement in Breeza.

"It's not our victory."

The government will now legislate to prevent any future mining on the land and will take control of a substantial portion of the site.

It is unclear what Shenhua will now do with their part of the land.

While closing the door on one mine, the government is ramping up mining elsewhere.

A tender process began today for an exploration licence for more mining near Wollar in the Central West.

American company Peabody operates the Wilpinjong mine in the area and some locals in the small town of Wollar have previously protested against an expansion to the site.

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Mr Barilaro said more mining had been planned near Wollar last year when the government finalised its mining strategy and decided which parts of the state would see more or less exploration.

"You'll find that the future of the coal map will continue to rule out parts of the state in relation to coal mining but there are parts of the state where it is appropriate," Mr Barilaro said.

"We do not demonise the coal industry."

He acknowledged that the scrapping of the Shenhua Watermark mine had come at a problematic time for the government which is fighting a by-election in the biggest mining seat in the state.

"The by-election in the Upper Hunter started with a referendum on coal mining," he said.

"The timing of the by-election is by luck or chance or in my case unlucky."

Mr Barilaro also ruled out any future open-cut mining at the Dartbrook mine in the Upper Hunter but left the door open for an underground mine operation.

As the state prepares to transition away from coal in coming decades, the government has now pledged to put $25 million (of the approximately $1.6 billion it earns in royalties each year) into a new fund that will be reinvested into mining communities.


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