Delegates, continuing and new, welcome to the Association of Mining Related Councils (AMRC).
This is our first newsletter, provided for you with an initial focus on providing an update on what has been happening in recent times during 2016 and providing information sources and links for your areas of interest. It is more like an update report rather than a newsletter but here goes.
There is plenty to be done to ensure the Association achieves its objectives in accordance with the Constitution, whereby you as a delegate and your Council are satisfied with the return on your investment. If not then please let the Chair, Executive Officer or any of the Executive know your views.
This newsletter will initially be in a pdf format with work to be done with CIBIS International (our original web page provider from Newcastle or another entity), to set up an online Newsletter run through the website for subscribers to comment and have more relevant links and information for delegates. I commend you to have a look at the website for background to AMRC and you will see there are alot of changes to be carried out.
Our Executive Officer
Don Tydd, former Executive Officer of AMRC, left the AMRC effective from 1st September 2016, after four years as the Executive Officer, to pursue other interests. The General Manager and staff of Warrumbungle Shire Council kept the function going on a shoestring basis until the new Executive Officer commenced and they are to be congratulated for the excellent job they have done.
Greg Lamont started with AMRC on 14th November 2016, as an independent contractor through his consultancy company to provide the suite of services required for the role of Executive Officer, including the secretariat and finance functions. He is on an annual performance based contract with Key Performance Indicators to meet as set by the Executive Committee on 8th December 2016.
Greg was one of two delegates to AMRC from Narromine Shire Council (as the General Manager) and had a strong involvement in AMRC matters as a member of the Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party and a keen contributor on the development of the Strategic Plan, Conduct of Elections, Expressions of Interest for the establishment of a panel of environmental consultants to provide expert comment to AMRC, when required.
The Constitution for AMRC is on the webpage but may need updating to reflect the conduct of election options and quorum changes approved in 2016 ie a quorum for Ordinary meetings to be a majority of members being present, ie if 20 members AMRC, then it is 11 members represented at the meeting for a quorum, rather than the number of delegates attending.
There is potential for the AMRC Constitution to be reviewed to expand the functions of AMRC to embrace renewable energy developments that may be established in your Local Government Area (LGA). Any changes are up to delegates to consider and agree upon in 2017. And a formal process to follow to change the Constitution. Food for thought when wind farming, solar and coal seam gas are becoming bigger issues in NSW and maybe your LGA.
Our Executive Committee
The Chair of the AMRC Executive Committee is the Mayor of Warrumbungle Shire Council, Clr Peter Shinton. He is assisted by two Deputy Chairs in Clr Chris Connor, Wollongong City Council (Coal) and Clr Lilliane Brady OAM, Cobar Shire Council (Metaliferrous – Gold, Copper, etc) and the Executive Committee members in Clr Owen Hasler, Gunnedah Shire Council, Clr Hollee Jenkins, Singleton Shire Council and Clr Jim Nolan, Broken Hill City Council. Elections are held annually. Meetings are held at least four times a year and generally within two weeks of the Ordinary meeting of all delegates of the AMRC.
Our Ordinary Meetings
Ordinary meetings are held quarterly and localities set at the Annual General Meeting in November each year. Next meeting will be in Sydney on 2nd March 2017 at a venue to be agreed upon by the Chair and Executive Officer. The Executive Committee will meet the afternoon before on 1st March 2017. Next meeting thereafter will be in Broken Hill in May, Sydney in August then Singleton in November 2017, dates to be finalised by Executive Committee in due course. Speakers are still to be finalised for 2nd March 2017 and a NSW Government Cabinet re-shuffle is mooted for January 2017, which may impact on the availbility of a Minister of the Crown to attend the meeting in Sydney in March 2017, however relevant speakers will be sourced.
Whilst there is a lot of background information in the headings on the webpage, as alluded to earlier in this newsletter, there is still a lot of information that needs to be updated since new delegates were appointed and AMRC elections held in November 2016. Nevertheless, there is a lot of good history and information on the webpage with the potential to provide more relevant details for delegates and an opportunity for you to comment or present or share any mining related items of interest at anytime. You can subscribe to the website.
These changes will be done as a matter of course and when the General Manager of CIBIS (current provider) or another entity and the Executive Officer meet and agree on the level of service, processes and changes, in consultation with the Chair, this will occur but may not happen until early 2017 given the current festive time of the year and other changeover priorities.
The webpage does provide some links and since first established in 2012 these need to be broadened to reflect the relationships AMRC have and will need to build on to meet the challenges in a changing society.
Our Future –The Strategic Framework 2013 – 16
The AMRC met in 2013 to chart a course for its future development and developed a Strategic Directions Statement in the form of a Strategic Framework for 2013 – 2016, as a catalyst for achievement, relevance and ongoing contribution to member councils and their communities in the years ahead. The Strategic Framework consists of a Vision, Mission, Role and Strategic Initiatives to build member value and capacity plus strengthen the Association’s advocacy ability and to refine our structures to enhance the effectiveness and response of AMRC.
Consequently, areas of focus and actions were identifed to achieve this. It is now an opportune time with new delegates, a new Executive Officer and a changing landscape with mining to revisit this Strategic Framework for AMRC. A sub committee was formed to do this however the indecisiveness of amalgamations in NSW in 2016 and future of some member Councils, delayed the process. It is proposed that a workshop will be held in 2017 to do this.
In the meantime a copy of the Strategic Framework for 2103 – 2106 is not on the website so it has been attached to the email for this newsletter for your information.
Our Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party (VPAWP)
The AMRC is represented on a Working Party with representatives of the NSW Minerals Council and their consultant, developing an improved process for the creation of a flexible model for a Voluntary Planning Agreement (Planning Agreement) that can be struck between a Council and the developer as a miner or otherwise. The impacts of the development on the infrastructure of a council and the social impacts on the community are considered as part of the development process and appropriate compensation is made by the developer to the council.
This is not meant to be a barrier to the development but to get agreement up front with the support of the Department of Planning and Environment as part of the approval process with IPART as an adjudicator if agreement is not reached or their is an impasse.
Delegates involved from AMRC are Clr Owen Hasler (Gunnedah Shire Council), Clr Hollee Jenkins (Singleton Shire Council), Mr Steve Loane, (General Manager, Warrumbungle Shire Council) and the AMRC Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, with assistance from Consultant Warwick Giblin (Oz Environmental).
NSW Minerals Council representatives are Greg Sullivan, Director Policy – NSW Minerals Council, Dave O’Brien (Glencore Mining), Mark Jacobs (Yancoal Mining) and Barb Crossley, Consultant assisting (Umwelt).
The VPAWP is at a stage where there is agreement on the wording of the Memorandum of Understanding, a Framework for Voluntary Planning Agreement Negotiations, a Roads Infrastructure Impact Calculator, a Timeframe Schematic from start to finish with a “stop the clock” mechanism if issues arise. The finalisation of a Social Impacts Calculator is still about 80% agreed to and an umpire process is also to be finalised.
The VPAWP has also considered the DPE Deputy Secretary’s VPA Draft Practice Note and Draft Ministerial Direction Papers (referred to below) when considering the content of the VPA format. AMRC has the support of the Minister and Senior Staff of DPE with our position and have put $10,000 into assisting with the cost of the Consultant.
Another meeting has been set down for 30th January 2017 to hopefully finalise the project.
Our Other Matters of Interest
No doubt at your respective Councils you are inundated with information from LGNSW, Office of Local Government, Department of Planning and Environment, other government and non government industry organisations, etc and items relevant to you as a delegate to AMRC may have been missed, so rather than send a mass of emails as these matters arise they will be placed in the monthly ewsletter and forwarded in a package for you to read and assimilate the information.
If any queries you can ask your General Manager and/or Director Planning and Environmental staff at your council for clarification on any of them. So I will list what has come to our attention in recent times as follows, (there may be others):-
- Revised Community Consultative Committee Guidelines from DPE (November 2016) that will apply to all committees, see their website planning.nsw.gov.au for them;
- DPE Compliance Report (October 2016) on all major mining projects in NSW, refer to planning.nsw.gov.au/major projects, includes infrastructure, mines, quarries and industry – worth a read to see how the regulatory process operates in NSW;
- The Australia Institute held a forum in Narrabri on 29th November 2016 (that the Executive Officer attended) on The Economic Impacts of CSG: How will it affect you? The data provided was based on the impacts of CSG in QLD and case studies were provided by a businessman and President of the Chamber of Commerce from Miles in Qld and an academic economist. Delegates can email Mark Ogge from the Australia Institute for the relevant research papers by emailing to:- email@example.com The Executive Officer has a copy of the paper referred to at the presentation, if interested is more information on this forum;
- The DPE is holding a series of information sessions in regional communities to explain the Draft Guidelines on Social Impact Assessments for State Significant Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industry Developments. Details are on planning.nsw.gov.au website. Dates and locations for workshops are Mudgee 30th January 2107, Singleton 31st January 2017, Gunnedah 6th February 2017 and Wollongong 8th February 2017. Submissions are due by 3rd March 2017 by Councils;
- The Western Research Institute, Bathurst has recently announced a new Inland Research Fund 9December 2016), to support high quality policy research that will assist inland communities and promote investment in inland economies (including mining) and requested AMRC forward this information to delegates. Contact is Dale Curran or Chair Mark Burdack and details are on their website at wri.org.au;
- NSW Farmers has launched its Landholder Guide to Mining and CSG in NSW (December 2016), which is a comprehensive resource designed to be a one stop shop for farmers. The Guide provides an up to date outline of legislation and information about mining and coal seam gas activity. It is designed to show farmers where to start with extractive industries, breaks down jargon and aimed to improve farmers awareness and improve their capacity to negotiate land access arrangements. The Guide can be accessed from miningandcsginfo.org/landholder-guide from NSW Farmers website or farmers can get a free copy posted to them by calling NSW Farmers on 1300 794 000;
- In north western NSW newspapers in November 2017, (Northern Daily Leader and Namoi Valley Independent) there has been a lot of commentary on independent audits being conducted by Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the results are being reviewed but have high lighted concerns about air qualty in the Namoi Valley coal mining areas and are calling on the NSW state government to investigate the situation;
- In December 2017, the NSW Environment Minister was quoted in the aforementioned newspapers that his department will look at the Namoi Valley air quality and dust issues as part of a state wide approach under the Clean Air for NSW Plan. The Plan will look at air quality monitoring data and processes in Namoi Valley and if needed will look at replicating what they have done to address it in the Hunter Valley. This is where the Environment Protection Authority monitors air pollution around the area’s mines. The Plan should be finished in 2017, refer their website for more details on this;
- Many articles during November and December in most newspapers in NSW have been circulating about Santos and the Coal Seam Gas issues at Wilga Park in the Pilliga Forest, their expansion program, reactions from environmentalists and residents about the potential for gas leaks, impacts, royalties, etc. Further details on controls and these relevant matters are outlined on the Division of Resources and Energy website, newspapers and environmental group webpages.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Message from the Chair
On behalf of the Executive Committee of the AMRC, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all and your families the very best for Christmas and hope you all have a very healthy, safe and productive New Year.
We look forward to working with you during 2017 to make the Association a more responsive and effective advocate for our respective communities.
If you have any queries in relation to this newsletter please do not hesitate to contact myself or the Executive Officer to see how we can assist you in your busy role as a Council delegate to the Association of Mining Related Councils.Our contacts are:-
Chair, Clr Peter Shinton, by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at Council on 02 68492000.
Greg Lamont Clr Peter Shinton
Executive Officer Chair