MERC Newsletter – October 2019

Introduction

Delegates, here is the October 2019 MERC Newsletter sent out on 2nd November 2019.This newsletter has a lot of important information and interesting articles in it for you to read, please circulate this to your fellow Councillors and senior staff, so they can appreciate and understand the excellent work the Association and you are doing on behalf of your Council and community, with regard to mining and energy related matters.

 

Update on the Voluntary Planning Agreement Steering Committee

The Guidelines for VPA’s and a VPA framework agreement (including scope and calculation methodologies) has now been agreed to by NSWMC & the MERC VPA Working Party. A foreword is being written for both Chairs/Executive Officers to sign off as part of the document. A copy of the final document won’t be in the November meeting business papers for delegates’ information as previously hoped until this is done.

 

Resources for Regions (R4R) versus a Royalties for Regions.

In our pursuit of the R4R being changed to suit mining affected Councils, MERC working party has been very active. A meeting was held on 23rd August 2019 and again on 15th October to:

  • reset the objectives of the program;
  • review the measures that best determine the extent to which communities are mining impacted (environmental, social & economic);
  • what scope of activity should the program be funding to best deliver on the objectives; and
  • whether it should be fixed funding or competitive tension.

 

The delegation consisted of Cr Sue Moore, Deputy Chair; Cr Owen Hasler, Executive Committee; Steve Loane and Greg Lamont, Executive Officer who raised the concerns about the need for  the source of funds NOT being tied to a BCR > 1, do away with the co-contribution and $1m limit, establishment of mining affectation criteria other than the current location quotient method, the competitive nature of grant applications versus need, being tied to the Community Strategic Plan, etc. These issues were acknowledged as being in need of reconsideration by the Resources NSW staff

Resources for NSW have engaged UTS Institute of Public Policy to assist with the review, their report is in thie link below. Here is what Caitlan Sandercock, Senior Project Officer, Resources NSW says:

“Just a quick note that the research and analysis we commissioned UTS to help inform the Resources for Regions Strategic Review has been synthesised into a report and published on our website. The department issued a media release last night noting its completion.

The report is here: https://static.nsw.gov.au/nsw-gov-au/1572410489/Resources-for-Regions-strategic-review.pdf

I’ll be in touch shortly to organise a follow up meeting with you and the key MERC members to discuss further progress on the review.”

So MERC and its members representations are having a major input into how the program will look in the future. They plan to have the new R4R implemented early in 2020.

Resources NSW have chosen MERC to be the primary consultation entity for Local Government on this and the working party has been asked to be involved in a meeting on either 15 or 16th October 2019 (LGNSW Conference period) to discuss the proposed changes to the Resources fro Regions with the focus on how to allocate the funding.

 

Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)

Given the changes to the Planning and Environment portfolios in Cabinet recently (Hon Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning & Public Places) is back in charge of this very important portfolio, consequently, it is not known if RAF will be retained nor is it likely that a further meeting will be held within the next few months.

If it is scrapped, this will mean that a lot of important relevant information that delegate Cr Hasler (Gunnedah Shire Council) regularly relayed to MERC, will not occur, which will be a shame. MERC resolved at its meetings on 8/9th August to write to the Minister Planning & Public Spaces for the retention of the initiatives put in place by the previous management such as RAF requesting its retention and for the inclusion of a MERC delegate at RAF.

There has been a response from the senior staff on whether RAF is to continue or not with the situation still being assessed. More detail is provided in the business apapers for Gloucester meetings on 7/8th November 2019.

 

Next Meetings of Association for 2019

The next Executive Committee meeting will be on 7th November 2019 at 9am at the former Mid Coast Administration Centre, Gloucester, followed by a mine tour organised by Mid Coast Council from 1pm and the Annual General and Ordinary General Meetings next day on 8th November 2019 at 9am, the Ordinary meeting will be held in the Gloucester RSL Auditorium.

A tour on the Thursday afternoon has been organised to a coal mine, an old gold mine with bush tucker sampling and a presentation on the recent Rocky Hill mine court case which prevented the mine from operating in a pristine area at the network dinner on Thursday which will be at the Avon Valley Inn, 82 Church St, Gloucester.

The meeting cycle for 2020 will be determined at the Annual General Meeting. Dates will be confirmed by the Executive in consultation with the host Councils, but by sticking with the pattern of second Thursday/Friday in the aforementioned months is what MERC is working on for your diaries. This fits in with Country Mayors and the member Council meeting cycles.

 

Membership Campaign

The Association at its May meeting in 2018, adopted a Marketing Policy to ensure membership increases by targeting more renewable energy development affected LGA’s in NSW and to formalise and strengthen the membership campaign. If any delegates have any colleagues in Local Government that may be interested in being part of our voice, please contact the Executive Officer.

 

Speakers for next meetings of MERC

There wont be any speakers for the next Ordinary meeting day due to it being busy with Annual General Meeting, elections, Life Membership presentation, workshop on the Strategic Plan review, etc. MERC is pursuing the following speakers for future meetings:

  • Hon Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning & Public Spaces, Liberal Party;
  • Hon Matt Kean, Minister for Energy & Environment, Liberal Party;
  • Hon John Barilaro, Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW, Investment & Trade, Leader of NSW National Party
  • Other relevant Opposition party members and government senior officers will also be pursued for meetings as required depending on locality of the meetings.

 

Life Membership Updates – Mitchell & Connor

Life membership badge, plaque and certificate will be presented to ex Cr Chris Connor at the November Annual General Meeting in Gloucester on 8th November 2019. Chris and Carolyn will be in attendance Wednesday and Thursday evenings to catch up with delegates. Col has advised he will liaise with the Executive Officer to attend a future meeting when able to in view of his ongoing medical treatments.

 

Coal Seam Gas Policy

The amended Coal Seam Gas Policy has now been improved with the addition of the double casing minimum and cementing of all bores from the well head (ground) to the production horizon (extraction zone at the bottom of the well) details, however there are still some minor changes to be made in the wording to reflect statutory changes since the policy was first adopted in 2014 and is still not been finalised. Ron Zwicker will cast his planning eye over the content once more beforehand.

The Policy is on the business papers to adopt now all changes have been checked. Thereafter a copy of the amended policy will be forwarded to delegates for their information and/or consideration.

 

 

Research Fellowship Update

In recent discussions with the PhD student, arrangements are being made to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the UTS which will outline details on insurances, performance measures, exit strategies, roles, finances, etc. Peter Dupen and Juan Castilla – Rho addressed delegates at the August meeting on progress with the project, grant options and possible projects.

In the meantime, Peter Dupen is canvassing other entities to be involved in the project as sponsors and is seeking other grant options. He and supervisors have been concentrating on 3 main tasks – progressing the design of the engagement process and evaluation framework; seeking agency support for the project and further funding for the project

 

MERC November Executive Committee Elections 8th November 2019

The election for positions on the Executive of MERC will take place on 8th November 2019. Nominations have been received for Chair (Cr Peter Shinton, Warrumbungle), Deputy Chair (Cr Sue Moore, Singleton and Cr Owen Hasler, Gunnedah) as Cr Lilliane Brady, OAM, Cobar, did not seek re-election, so they will be declared elected at the Annual General Meeting.

 

Nominations for the remaining 3 positions on the Executive Committee have been received from Cr Michael Banasik (Wollondilly), Cr Jim Nolan (Broken Hill), Cr Phyllis Miller (Forbes), Cr Melanie Dagg (Cessnock), Kevin Duffy (Orange) and Cr Dan Thompson (Singleton). The election will be conducted under the Preferential voting system and the Returning Officer is Adrian Panucci, General Manager, Mid Coast Council.

 

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues

“$6 million for metals exploration in regional NSW Media Release, Deputy Premier, Hon John Barilaro”, Tuesday, 29 October 2019. Explorers are being encouraged to search new areas of the state for both traditional and hightech metal deposits thanks to $6 million in grants from the NSW Government to attract new investment into regional NSW. 

Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Resources John Barilaro said the third funding round of the New Frontiers Cooperative Drilling program will reimburse successful applicants for up to 50 per cent of their per metre drilling costs up to a maximum of $200,000.  Speaking at the sixth annual International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne today, Mr Barilaro announced a $2 million funding boost, on top of $4 million allocated under two previous rounds of the program. 

“We’ve already seen the benefits from previous rounds of this fund, with the first Cooperative Drilling hole in a project near Broken Hill striking high-grade platinum group metals and leading to a $5 million joint venture investment,” Mr Barilaro said.  “Our goal is to make NSW the number one state for new mineral exploration and resources investment across the nation, and we’re doing that by providing greater support for explorers and investors, and providing greater certainty for the mining sector.” 

The NSW Government has just completed the largest-ever aerial electromagnetic (AEM) survey by area in NSW history, with researchers looking for clues for new copper, gold and zinc deposits, and groundwater, over more than 19,000 km2 in the Greater Cobar region.

 “A vast array of metals are used worldwide to manufacture high-tech products such as smartphones, satellite components and pacemakers, as well as renewable energy technologies including wind turbines and the batteries in hybrid and electric cars,” Mr Barilaro said.  “Global demand for metals is growing strongly and we want to ensure that the people of NSW, especially the NSW Central West, have every chance to capitalise on that demand, with the exploration for new mineral deposits and groundwater sources generating jobs, attracting investment and bringing economic and social benefits to local communities.” 

Data from the AEM survey will be available to the public in the first quarter of 2020, adding to a range of other detailed maps and geological information already available from the Resources and Geoscience website. 

Mr Barilaro also launched the NSW Government’s new Online Minerals Prospectus, another key deliverable of the NSW Minerals Strategy. “This dynamic online portal acts as a one-stop shop for explorers, project developers and mining investors, giving them the tools and guidance they need to tap into the minerals and business potential of NSW, especially regional NSW,” Mr Barilaro said.  “Mineral exploration is a high-risk investment with long life cycles that can exceed 20 years, but NSW offers the conditions for success and the NSW Government strongly supports our minerals industry and the responsible development of our mineral resources into the future.”

“Mining makes a significant contribution to the NSW economy and provides a wide variety of benefits to communities across regional NSW, including employment, with the industry supporting more than 29,000 direct and 115,000 indirect jobs.”

For more information on the Cooperative Drilling Program visit www.resourcesandgeoscience.nsw.gov.au/cooperative-drilling View the Online Minerals Prospectus at www.resourcesandgeoscience.nsw.gov.au/investors/online-prospectus

 

National renewables in agriculture conference” 14th November 2019, 9am – 4.30pm, The Range Function Centre, 308 Copland Street, Wagga Wagga. Charlie Prell, Australian Wind Alliance has invited delegates to attend this conference and expo. The objective of the conference is to explore the relationship between renewables and Agriculture and the opportunities that this shift to renewables is presenting to regional Australia. This is very similar to the theme of the workshop you organised and that I spoke at in Crookwell.

 

There will be a plethora of information at this upcoming conference in Wagga that would be very useful for Councils to access and absorb. Is it possible for you to forward this email and the attached flyer to your group of councils please? I know this is very short notice, but if there are any councillors and/or council staff who would be able to attend, I am sure it will be very worthwhile for them.

Please get in touch if you need any further information about the event.  Charlie 0427224839

“New Grid Reliability Fund a welcome boost to transmission investment” 30th October 2019

A funding injection of $1 billion to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) by the Federal Government can accelerate investment in the electricity transmission network and prepare the energy system for the shift from coal to renewable energy, the Clean Energy Council said today.

Clean Energy Chief Executive Kane Thornton said Australia’s power grid was designed for the last century and it is becoming increasingly obvious that major investment and reform are needed.  “We know that new poles and wires are essential to the development of a modern electricity system. The Grid Reliability Fund is the first increase in capital since the CEFC was established, and can leverage significant private investment into one of the areas of greatest need,” Mr Thornton said.

“It is reassuring to see both the Federal Government and the opposition recognising the importance of investment in network infrastructure and grid stabilising technologies to unlock new generation investment and bring down power prices. Targeted government funding has a role to play in kick-starting urgent investment in a future-ready network.”

Mr Thornton said there is a huge pipeline of new clean energy projects in the system that can help bring prices down, but many investors are holding off due to grid constraints and a lack of certainty on energy and climate policy. “It is important that there is significant transparency and objectivity in how the fund will support new generation projects short-listed under the Underwriting New Generation Investment program,” he said.

“It is important that the new fund is objective, transparent and does not become politicised. It also needs to be operated in a way that leverages the strong interest from the private sector in Australia’s clean energy future rather than acting to ‘crowd out’ investment.”  

Transmission and grid connection were the highest priorities for executives in the clean energy industry in the last two Clean Energy Outlook surveys, which are conducted every six months. Refer www.cleanenergycouncil@org.au

 

“NSW communities are invited to apply for grants that will assist them reduce climate change impacts such as heatwaves, bush fires or floods.

The Increasing Resilience to Climate Change (IRCC) community grants program is providing $600,000 in the first round of grants. Grants between $10,000 and $30,000 are available for individual projects. Community groups can partner with local councils in their applications for funding under the IRCC.

The grants are funded through the Climate Change Fund, which allows the NSW Government to better support the community in its response to the effects of climate change.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said these grants will help local communities plan, coordinate and take action to increase their resilience and adapt.

“IRCC grant funding has already benefited Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils for a cool suburbs rating tool and Bega Valley Shire Council to upgrade community halls to be more climate-resilient during extreme heat events,” Mr Kean said.

Apply for round one funding by 31 January 2020(external link)

 

Eligible NSW residents will be offered a free rooftop solar system and installation, saving them around $300 each year on their energy bills.          NSW Government Circular, 25th October 2019. Refer www.dpc@nsw.gov.au.

Up to 3000 low income households will be provided with a 3-kilowatt rooftop solar system valued at $4000 per installation, as part of a $15 million commitment from the NSW Government to reduce the impact of high energy prices. Recipients will be selected from five regions across the state for the trial, including the Central Coast, North Coast, South Coast, Sydney-South and the Illawarra-Shoalhaven areas.  

Eligible applicants must meet criteria that includes owning their home in a selected region, having a valid Pensioner Concession or a Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card, and opting out of the Low Income Household Rebate for 10 years.

NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean said the NSW Government is committed to reducing emissions and acting on climate change, while also ensuring affordable and reliable energy for the people of NSW.

“Through the Solar for Low Income Households trial, we will unlock the environmental and economic benefits of clean energy for more homes in NSW,” Mr Kean said.

Find out more about the Solar for Low Income Households trial(external link)

 

“From Warwick Giblin, Oz Environmental on ICAC Inquiry into the regulation of lobbying, access and influence in NSW – FW: OPERATION ECLIPSE PUBLIC INQUIRY: Professor Mary O’Kane’s presentation today 22/10 at the ICAC”

This afternoon Professor Mary O’Kane, Chair of the Independent Planning Commission (IPC), gave evidence at the ICAC Inquiry into the regulation of lobbying, access and influence in NSW. I watched the Hearing on live streaming. Prof O’Kane’s key messages were:

  1. At the time of her appointment in April 2018, Minister Roberts was clear in his instructions that the IPC was to be independent, transparent, open, make robust decisions and rebuild public trust in the decisions on major projects;

 

  1. When asked by the ICAC how the introduction of public transcripts of essentially all meetings was received, she said:
  • By proponents: ‘Basically neutral’;
  • By the community: ‘very positive’;
  • By the DPIE: ‘quite negatively’. She went on to say the public transcripts had a ‘very chilling affect’ on the Dept with regards to interactions between the DPIE and the IPC and that the ‘Dept expressed its discomfort’ and was sometimes ‘unwilling to answer questions’ put to it by the IPC;

 

  1. Until recently, whenever the IPC wished to meet with other Govt Depts and certain specific officials, such meeting requests were arranged by the DPIE. However, that process proved unsatisfactory to the IPC as the key personnel it explicitly wanted to interview often did not present at such meetings. The IPC has now changed that process and arranges its own meetings with other Departments and no longer goes via the DPIE.   

 

“Snowy costs queried”

The promised Snowy Hydro 2.0 project has been described as “too expensive” by a leading energy expert. With costs and timeframes blowing out, concern has been raised about whether the multi-billion-dollar scheme is worthwhile.

“Here is a project that is likely to cost five times more than the then prime minister [Malcolm Turnbull] said it would, and whose capability is nowhere near what has been claimed of it,” director of the Victorian Energy Policy Centre, Bruce Mountain, has told the ABC. “This is a project that we can confidently forecast will be a drain on the public purse and whose service in the transition to a cleaner energy future can be met far more cheaply from other sources.

“Snowy Hydro 2.0 was a political get-out-of-jail card, played at the public’s expense.”

Dr Mountain has suggested an independent panel review the project, to see if it is worth doing, and whether the money could be better spent.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull first announced the project in 2017, saying it would cost $2 billion and be up and running by 2021.

Less than a year later, that estimated cost had doubled, and by the time a contract for part of the project was signed in 2019, the cost was up to $5.1 billion — not including transmission costs, which will be billions more.

It is yet to be determined who will actually pay for the transmission.

Snowy Hydro says it should not bear the cost, as it will not be the only user of the infrastructure. The company says taxpayers will pay for it, and that they will welcome the “downward pressure” on energy bills.

Dr Mountain is not convinced. “There will be public subsidy in Snowy Hydro — whether it comes from the electricity payer or the taxpayer is yet to be worked out — but it will be a loss overall,” he said.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor has not conceded that there has been a major cost blowout.

“We made our investment decision after we had done a cost benefit and after we’ve done the feasibility work in December 2017. The cost came out at $3.8 billion to $4.5 billion,” he told reporters.

There is also the question of Snowy Hydro’s competing priorities. The government wants the company to push down power prices but also make a profit on behalf of taxpayers.

Mr Taylor claims it will do both.

“The beauty of this investment is that it can deliver an investment for shareholders, which is Snowy and ultimately the Australian taxpayers, and at the same time put downward pressure on electricity bills,” he said.

Despite Mr Turnbull’s original claim that the project will be generating electricity by 2021, Snowy Hydro says it will be at least 2025.

The new scheme aims to create an energy store, where water is pumped from the lower reservoir, Talbingo, to the upper reservoir at Tantangara when power prices are low.

The water would then be released and run back down hill to generate electricity when demand and power prices are high. The plans require 27 kilometres of new tunnels, which conservationists say will permanently damage or destroy 100 square kilometres of the Kosciuszko National Park.

Snowy Hydro says only 1 square kilometre of national park will be permanently damaged.

Experts say there are far cheaper ways to achieve the same result as the massive Snowy Hydro 2.0 scheme, such as demand management.

They also criticise the size and seeming inevitability of the scheme, saying it has distorted the renewable energy investment market, pushing potential competitors away from new projects. Refer www.industrialcareers.com.au

 

Contacts

Clr Peter Shinton (Chair) peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au 0268492000 or Greg Lamont (Executive Officer) 0407937636, info@miningrelatedcouncils.asn.au.

MERC Newsletter – September 2019

Introduction

Delegates, here is the September 2019 MERC Newsletter sent out on 5th October 2019.This newsletter has a lot of important information and interesting articles in it for you to read, please circulate this to your fellow Councillors and senior staff, so they can appreciate and understand the excellent work the Association and you are doing on behalf of your Council and community, with regard to mining and energy related matters.

 

Update on the Voluntary Planning Agreement Steering Committee

Another meeting of the Steering Committee was held on 23 August 2019, to consider the position papers distributed by MERC & NSW Minerals Council on what should be in the Guidelines for VPA’s and put into a VPA framework agreement (including scope and calculation methodologies) and if substantial progress cannot be made, both parties agreed that the future of the Committee should be considered.

It was agreed that NSWMC prepare a draft document to embrace all methodologies and submit to the MERC VPA working party for consideration and to submit back to NSWMC and DPIE by 6th September 2019 for consideration and there is no need for a further meeting of the Steering Committee if agreement can be reached on the Framework paper (which is highly likely).

The MERC VPA working party requested Oz Environmental to cast an eye over the paper and comments have been made on the document by the MERC VPA working party. The final document has now been agreed to by NSWMC & the VPA Working Party after some “to & fro” and has been returned for finalisation of the content to NSWMC and for them tasked with submitting it to Mike Young at the DPIE to sign off and adopt. A copy of the final document should be in the November meeting business papers for delegates’ information.

 

Resources for Regions (R4R) versus a Royalties for Regions.

In our pursuit of the R4R being chnaged to suit mining affected Councils, MERC working party has been very active.The story so far:

Hon John Barilaro advised he was unable to attend the MERC meeting on 9th August to discuss Resources for Regions reform, however he organised for his Senior Policy Officer (Olivia Graham) and Policy Officer (Alysia Smith) to meet with a delegation from MERC on 9th August 2019 to meet and discuss the current program and alternative approaches to ensure a reasonable return of royalties to invest inregional infrastructure programs.

After a positive hearing from Olivia and Alysia, a further meeting was organised by them for the MERC delegation to meet with Resources NSW staff (Caitlin Sandercock & Jonathon Wheaton – Chris Hangar was unavailable however it was pointed out that these people have been given the responsibility to design a new R4R program under the auspice of senior staffer, Gary Barnes) for an official review of the Resources for Regions program on 23rd August 2019.

The Agenda for the meeting on 23rd August 2019, reflected that the government want to:

  • reset the objectives of the program;
  • review the measures that best determine the extent to which communities are mining impacted (environmental, social & economic);
  • what scope of activity should the program be funding to best deliver on the objectives; and
  • whether it should be fixed funding or competitive tension.

The delegation consisted of Cr Sue Moore, Deputy Chair; Cr Owen Hasler, Executive Committee; Steve Loane and Greg Lamont, Executive Officer who raised the concerns about the need for  the source of funds NOT being tied to a BCR > 1, do away with the co-contribution and $1m limit, establishment of mining affectation criteria other than the current location quotient method, the competitive nature of grant applications versus need, being tied to the Community Strategic Plan, etc. These issues were acknowledged as being in need of reconsideration by the Resources NSW staff

Resources for NSW have engaged UTS Institute of Public Policy to assist with the review and have indicated that the Resources NSW staff will attend our meeting in Gloucester on 8th November 2019 to discuss progress and for further input, if needed. Singleton Council have also had extensive input with the Deputy Premier’s Department staff on their ideas about how a reformed R4R should look as well. So MERC and its members representations are having a major input into how the program will look in the future. They plan to have the new R4R implemented early in 2020.

Resources NSW have chosen MERC to be the primary consultation entity for Local Governmnet on this and the working party has been asked to be involved in a meeting on either 15 or 16th October 2019 (LGNSW Conference period) to discuss the proposed changes to the Resources fro Regions with the focus on how to allocate the funding.

The Resources NSW  staff & UTS will be attending our meeting at Gloucester on 8th November 2019 to go over the changes proposed for Resources for Regions. More later when details are clearer after the October meeting.

 

Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)

Given the changes to the Planning and Environment portfolios in Cabinet recently (Hon Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning & Public Places) is back in charge of this very important portfolio, consequently, it is not known if RAF will be retained nor is it likely that a further meeting will be held within the next few months.

If it is scrapped, this will mean that a lot of important relevant information that delegate Cr Hasler (Gunnedah Shire Council) regularly relayed to MERC, will not occur, which will be a shame. MERC resolved at its meetings on 8/9th August to write to the Minister Planning & Public Spaces for the retention of the initiatives put in place by the previous management such as RAF requesting its retention and for the inclusion of a MERC delegate at RAF.

There has not been any response from the Minister on whether RAF is to continue and the Executive Officer will contact appropriate DPIE people to follow this up..

 

Next Meetings of Association for 2019

The next Executive Committee meeting will be on 7th November 2019 at 9am at the former Mid Coast Administration Centre, Gloucester, followed by a mine tour organised by Mid Coast Council from 1pm and the Annual General and Ordinary General Meetings next day on 8th November 2019 at 9am, the Ordinary meeting will be held in the Gloucester RSL Auditorium. Numbers are needed to ensure a quorum and delegates will be pursued on this.

Discussions with Donna Hudson from the MidCoast Council regarding details for accommodation, meetings, mine tour and network dinner have resulted in the establishment of some great arrangements. A tour on the Thursday afternoon is being organised to a coal mine, an old gold mine with bush tucker sampling and a presentation on the recent Rocky Hill mine court case which prevented the mine from operating in a pristine area at the network dinner on Thursday which will be at the Avon Valley Inn, 82 Church St, Gloucester.

For the meetings 7/8th November 2019, the accommodation options are many and varied and all of them can be found on the www.barringtoncoastbusinesshub.com.au site or on the MidCoast Council site. Motels in Gloucester:

  • Bucketts Way Motel, 19 Church St, ph 02 65582588,
  • Coppers Hill Motel, 11 Church St, ph 0427589075,
  • Roundabout Inn Motel & Pub, 28 Church St 02 65581816,
  • King St Boutique Motel, 52 King St ph 02 65589020;
  • Gloucester Country Lodge Motel, 4663 92 (2k out on the Buckets Way)

Gloucester Caravan Park end of Denison St at Boundary St, ph 02 65581720, B & B’s, self contained units and riverside cabins are available.

The meeting cycle for 2020 will be determined at the Annual General Meeting. Dates will be confirmed by the Executive in consultation with the host Councils, but by sticking with the pattern of second Thursday/Friday in the aforementioned months is what MERC is working on for your diaries. This fits in with Country Mayors and the member Council meeting cycles.

 

Membership Campaign

The Association at its May meeting in 2018, adopted a Marketing Policy to ensure membership increases by targeting more renewable energy development affected LGA’s in NSW and to formalise and strengthen the membership campaign. If any delegates have any colleagues in Local Government that may be interested in being part of our voice, please contact the Executive Officer.

 

Speakers for next meetings of MERC

The Executive Officer is finalising the following speakers for the meeting in Gloucester 8th November 2019:

  • Caitlin Sandercock, Jonathon Wheaton & Chris Hangar, Resources NSW, on review of Resources for Regions and the new program details (Confirmed) ;
  • Hon Adam Marshall, Minister for Agriculture & Minister for Western NSW on regional issues;

MERC is awaiting confirmation from the following speakers for future meetings:

  • Hon Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning & Public Spaces, Liberal Party;
  • Hon Matt Kean, Minister for Energy & Environment, Liberal Party;
  • Hon John Barilaro, Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW, Investment & Trade, Leader of NSW National Party.

Other relevant Opposition party members and government senior officers will also be pursued for meetings as required depending on locality of the meetings.

 

Life Membership Updates – Mitchell & Connor

Life membership badge, plaque and certificate will be presented to ex Cr Chris Connor at the November Annual General Meeting in Gloucester on 8th November 2019. Chris and Carolyn will be in attendance Wednesday and Thursday evenings to catch up with delegates. Col has advised he will liaise with the Executive Officer to attend a future meeting when able to in view of his ongoing medical treatments.

 

Coal Seam Gas Policy

The amended Coal Seam Gas Policy has now been improved with the addition of the double casing minimum and cementing of all bores from the well head (ground) to the production horizon (extraction zone at the bottom of the well) details, however there are still some minor changes to be made in the wording to reflect statutory changes since the policy was first adopted in 2014 and is still not been finalised. Ron Zwicker will cast his planning eye over the content once more beforehand.

Thereafter a copy of the amended policy will be forwarded to delegates for their information and/or consideration.

 

Research Fellowship Update

In recent discussions with the PhD student, arrangements are being made to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the UTS which will outline details on insurances, performance measures, exit strategies, roles, finances, etc. Peter Dupen and Juan Castilla – Rho addressed delegates at the August meeting on progress with the project, grant options and possible projects. In the meantime, Peter Dupen is canvassing other entities to be involved in the project as sponsors and is seeking other grant options. His latest update of his meetings summary and his commentary is as follows:

Who

Date

Organisation, Reps

Key Outcomes

JCR, PD

09/08/19

MERC, presented to full meeting

MERC continue to be keen to support project, but would prefer to reduce sponsorship to $20K if other sponsors can be found.

JCR, PD

09/08/19

NSW Minerals Council – Tony ???

Minerals Council unconvinced that the trial process will benefit their members, would like a further briefing with Mike Gallilee once agency support is confirmed.

JCR, PD

16/09/18

DoI Water – Liz Rogers, Andrew Garratt

Liz and Andrew were supportive, with Liz suggesting we should also speak to Dept Ag who do a lot of consultation on Strategic Ag Land and might benefit from MFS’s.  Defer to Mitchell Isaacs and DPE for decision on formal support.

JCR, PD

16/09/18

DPIE, Mike Young

Mike Young, one of the head people in Planning, agreed that the project was compatible with their efforts to encourage earlier and better stakeholder engagement.  Suggested that we should direct letter seeking support and funding, with 2-pager factsheet, to him to coordinate within DPIE.

PD

26/09/18

Windfarm Commissioner, Clean Energy Council

Mike Young also suggested that we keep options open to doing windfarm proposal instead of mines, much more early-stage projects available.  If Minerals Council don’t provide funding, maybe Clean Energy Council might.  I’m chasing reps of both groups for a project introduction chat.  My main concern about windfarms is that there is a much less obvious benefit available from modelling in their engagement.

JCR, PD

27/09/18

DRG –

Dr Alex King

Alex is the head of policy in DRG, the minerals part of DPIE.  Alex brought two extras with him to meeting, and at first appeared a bit sceptical about engagement and proponents. However, he said by the end that he was happy to support and be involved in the project moving forward.

PD

27/09/18

DoI Water – Mitchell Isaacs

Mitchell was unable to make previous DoI Water briefing, but is a key player so we agreed to give him a separate briefing.  Mitchell heard me out and said that he was supportive, will await a letter and internal consultation with DPE.  Doesn’t think DoI would contribute funds.

“Since we last spoke, my supervisors and I have been concentrating on three tasks:

  1. Progressing the design of the engagement process and an evaluation framework that will guide the monitoring and measurement of it.  A key requirement for the success of the project is that the engagement process is ethical and that all relevant aspects will be appropriately monitored to enable an accurate evaluation of the outcomes and value of the process to be completed. 

In particular, we need to consider what aspects are important to measure (stakeholder confidence and satisfaction with engagement, success in meeting project outcomes, other?) and how we will measure them.  This requires a comprehensive literature review on stakeholder values and evaluation methodologies as the first step, and I have been spending much time on this.

  1. Seeking agency support for the project.  A summary of the meetings that we’ve held and the outcomes are above – this has gone well to date and we’ve had verbal support from the three key sub-agencies.  The next step is to prepare a project fact sheet to accompany a letter to DPIE, where Mike Young has kindly offered to act as the central contact point to formulate a collective agency letter of support.  With the benefit of the letter of support, we will return for another discussion with the Minerals Council.  We are also talking to the Commonwealth Dept of Environment and key windfarm authorities.
  2. Seeking further funding for the project.  The main opportunity identified to date is DPIE, and we will include an appeal for direct and in-kind funding in our letter to them.  We will also repeat our request to the Minerals Council once we understand whether DPIE will contribute.

I’ll send you a copy of our letter and project fact sheet once these are approved.  We would be happy to discuss any of the above points or any other matters that MERC would like to raise at your convenience, and I will provide a further update in a month or so”.

MERC November Executive Committee Elections 8th November 2019

The election for positions on the Executive of MERC will take place on 8th November 2019 and details will be circulated to members shortly. Nominations must be on the prescribed form provided by the Executive Officer. Basically the nominations will be called for no later than 2 weeks and close 1 week, before the election. Nominations are to be seconded by a current delegate signed or emailed an intention to sign plus option of attaching a resume.

 

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues

Taylor threatens Liddell23rd September 2019, article in Industrial Careers:

Energy Minister Angus Taylor has waved the government’s ‘big stick’ at the Liddell power plant. Mr Taylor says he is keeping close tabs on the ageing coal-fired power station in NSW, to see if its closure by 2023 affects electricity supply or cause price spikes.

Mr Taylor says the government’s so-called ‘big stick’ legislation – which threatens to break up power companies that are found to be raising prices unfairly – could be put into play. “If there is not either extension or like-for-like replacement this will be unacceptable, because you will see upward pressure on prices and a loss of reliability,” he told the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

In the same interview, he also shrugged off calls from hundreds of thousands of protesters for stronger climate action. Mr Taylor said the nation is on track to cut greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris target of a 26 to 28 per cent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030. “This has to be globally coordinated action and Australia needs to do its bit, and we are,” Mr Taylor said. Refer www.industrialcareers.com.au for further details.

 

“Victoria goes for gold” 23rd September in Industrial Careers, article:

The Victorian Government will apply a 2.75 per cent gold royalty from 2020.The state says mines will remain profitable when it removes the exemption of gold from existing royalties.

It says the benefits from gold production have not been shared fairly among all Victorians, and with prices at an all-time high and advances in mining technology, it wants a cut. The royalties will not apply to the first 2,500 ounces of gold produced by smaller producers each year.

Minerals Council of Australia Victoria executive director James Sorahan described it as a “reckless decision” for a “poorly-considered gold royalty.” “There is a serious risk that mines will close early and regional development will be handicapped through less investment,” Mr Sorahan said in a statement.

“The projected $16 million in revenue per annum from the gold royalty compares to over $300 million spent in Victoria by gold miners in 2018 on wages, goods and services, taxes and community grants. The closure of just one mine would wipe out the entire benefit of the royalty revenue.”

The Victorian minerals industry has proposed an exploration offset to encourage more exploration, to create more profitable royalty-paying mines. “Victoria’s gold industry has unique characteristics which require a more considered approach to the implementation of a gold royalty,” Mr Sorahan said. “The government needs to start again by listening to industry on the gold royalty to create incentives to encourage exploration and maximise mine life.” Refer www.industrialcareers.com.au for further details.

   

United Nations issues warming” 25th September 2019, Industrial Careers article:

There is a glaring and growing gap between global warming targets and reality. A report by the science advisory group of the UN’s Climate Action Summit 2019 says global temperatures since 2015 are on track to be the hottest on record for any five-year period.

However, current global commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions will likely lead to a global temperature rise of between 2.9°C and 3.4°C by the end of the century, the report finds. To actually limit warming to 2°C, countries will need to commit to emissions reductions that are triple their current commitments. If the world is to limit warming to 1.5°C, those commitments need to be five times greater.

But the experts say it is not too late. It is technically still feasible to bridge this gap, but global ambitions must be increased urgently and backed up by immediate action. It calls for fundamental socio-economic transformation in key sectors such as land use and energy.

The report aims to present a “transparent envelope” of authoritative and actionable cutting-edge science. Levels of the main long-lived greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4)) and nitrous oxide (N2O) have reached new highs.

The last time Earth’s atmosphere contained 400 parts per million CO2 was about 3-5 million years ago, when global mean surface temperatures were 2-3°C warmer than today, ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica melted, parts of East Antarctica ice had retreated, all causing global see level rise of 10-20m compared with today.

In 2018, global CO2 concentration was 407.8 parts per million (ppm), 2.2 ppm higher than 2017. Preliminary data from a subset of greenhouse gas monitoring sites for 2019 indicate that CO2 concentrations are on track to reach or even exceed 410 parts per million (ppm) by the end of 2019.

The report assesses the latest scientific studies on current and estimated future greenhouse gas emissions; they compare these with the emission levels permissible for the world to progress on a least-cost pathway to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

This difference between “where we are likely to be and where we need to be” is known as the emissions gap. Global emissions are not estimated to peak by 2030, let alone by 2020, if current climate policies and ambition levels of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are maintained.

Preliminary findings from the Emissions Gap Report 2019 indicate that greenhouse gas emissions continued to rise in 2018. The evidence continues to reinforce human influence as the dominant cause of changes to the Earth system, in a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene.

Growing climate impacts increase the risks of crossing critical tipping points. These refer to thresholds that, if crossed, lead to far-reaching, in some cases abrupt and/or irreversible changes. The report is accessible here.

 

“Clean Energy Open Day” Clean Energy Council reports that “On Sunday 27 October, 16 clean energy projects from five states will be throwing open their gates to the public for a range of fun and informative open day events. Australia is transitioning towards a renewable energy future and the possibility of a new golden age for energy. So far in 2019 construction in the industry represents approximately $27 billion in investment and brought over 16,656 jobs to rural and regional communities throughout Australia.

Clean Energy Open day is a great opportunity to get up close to the future of Australia’s clean power generation. Wind and solar farms will be opening their gates in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. Check out the list of projects hosting events below. Projects in NSW are:

Broken Hill Solar Plant, Barrier Highway, Broken Hill. 9am – 3pm. AGL, as part of its Powering Australia Renewables Fund, is hosting a community open day at the 53 MW Broken Hill Solar Plant. The community open day will be kick off at 9.00am and include activities for kids and a live broadcast from local radio station 2Dry FM. AGL staff members will be on hand to talk about how the solar plant works and answer any technical questions. The day provides the perfect opportunity for people to learn more about renewable energy in their local community. To find out more about Broken Hill Solar Plant visit their website.

Neoens’ Dubbo Solar Hub, 20L Sheraton Rd, Dubbo 10.00am – 2.00pm. Dubbo Solar Hub, which consists of two solar farms has been in operation since June 2018. Jointly they generate around 61,000 MWh of renewable energy each year, enough to power around 9,000 homes. The South Keswick Solar Farm is located on the outskirts of Dubbo and produces 2/3 of the Dubbo Hub’s electricity production. The site has 56,160 solar panels and connects to the Essential Energy network. The solar farm also successfully combines electricity generation with agriculture. There are currently over 150 merino sheep grazing among the panels. For more information about Neoen’s Dubbo Solar Hub visit their website.

Gullen Range Wind and Solar Farm Tour pick up from Crookwell Motel, 101 Goulburn Ln, Crookwell NSW 2583.Tour departs at 11am. What’s happening on the day: Gullen Range Wind and Solar Farm is hosting a special public tour to celebrate the 2019 Clean Energy Council Open Day! The tour is now booked out, to join the waitlist for a spot, please visit their website. Please note that advance bookings on the tour bus are essential. The public cannot self-drive to Gullen Range Wind and Solar Farm for safety reasons.

Further detail are at :https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/events/clean-energy-open-day

 

Contacts

Clr Peter Shinton (Chair) peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au 0268492000 or Greg Lamont (Executive Officer) 0407937636, info@miningrelatedcouncils.asn.au.

MERC Newsletter – August 2019

Introduction

Delegates, here is the August 2019 MERC Newsletter.This newsletter has a lot of important information and interesting articles in it for you to read, please circulate this to your fellow Councillors and senior staff, so they can appreciate and understand the excellent work the Association and you are doing on behalf of your Council and community, with regard to mining and energy related matters.

 

Update on the Voluntary Planning Agreement Steering Committee

Another meeting of the Steering Committee was held on 23 August 2019, to consider the position papers distributed by MERC & NSW Minerals Council on what should be in the Guidelines for VPA’s and put into a VPA framework agreement (including scope and calculation methodologies) and if substantial progress cannot be made, both parties agreed that the future of the Committee should be considered.

The meeting had some surprises with:

  • Changes in the representation of the DPIE. Previously they were to take an observer role, however Mike Young replaced Stephen Barry as the DPIE person with a minute taker and Mike was actively involved in discussions indicating changes were on the horizon;
  • The NSWMC also was very co-operative and admitted to now seeing what MERC was trying to achieve with a flexible list of methodology options where any of them could be used and agreed that a final document could have all options outlined without a stipulation that there be a worker domicile model in every option;
  • It was agreed that NSWMC prepare a draft document to embrace all methodologies and submit to the MERC VPA working party for consideration and to submit back to NSWMC and DPIE by 6th September 2019 for consideration;
  • There is no need for a further meeting of the Steering Committee if agreement can be reached on the Framework paper which is highly likely.

The MERC VPA working party has requested Oz Environmental to cast an eye over the paper and comment by 6th September to the MERC VPA working party. It is looking likely that MERC will receive the agreed document in the November business papers at last.

 

Resources for Regions (R4R) versus a Royalties for Regions.

MERC will continue to canvas the new NSW Government for changes to the current Resources for Regions program to resemble a Royalties for Regions one. There is widespread support for changing the existing program to a Royalties for Region program with a set percentage being allocated to mining and energy affected Councils for infrastructure, social and economic impact addressing.

Hon John Barilaro has advised he was unable to attend the MERC meeting on 9th August to discuss Resources for Regions reform, however he organised for his Senior Policy Officer (Olivia Graham) and Policy Officer (Alysia Smith) to meet with a delegation from MERC on 9th August in the afternoon to meet and discuss the current program and alternative approaches to ensure a reasonable return of royalties to invest inregional infrastructure programs.

After a positive hearing from Olivia and Alysia, a further meeting was organised by them for the MERC delegation to meet with Resources NSW staff (Caitlin Sandercock & Jonathon Wheaton – Chris Hangar was unavailable however it was pointed out that these people have been given the responsibility to design a new R4R program under the auspice of senior staffer, Gary Barnes) for an official review of the Resources for Regions program on 23rd August 2019.

The Agenda for the meeting on 23rd August 2019, reflected that the government want to:

  • reset the objectives of the program;
  • review the measures that best determine the extent to which communities are mining impacted (environmental, social & economic);
  • what scope of activity should the program be funding to best deliver on the objectives; and
  • whether it should be fixed funding or competitive tension.

The delegation consisted of Cr Sue Moore, Deputy Chair; Cr Owen Hasler, Executive Committee; Steve Loane and Greg Lamont, Executive Officer who raised the concerns about the need for  the source of funds NOT being tied to a BCR > 1, do away with the co-contribution and $1m limit, establishment of mining affectation criteria other than the current location quotient method, the competitive nature of grant applications versus need, being tied to the Community Strategic Plan, etc. These issues were acknowledged as being in need of reconsideration by the Resources NSW staff

Resources for NSW have engaged UTS Institute of Public Policy to assist with the review and have indicated that the Resources NSW staff will attend our meeting in Gloucester on 8th November 2019 to discuss progress and for further input, if needed. Singleton Council have also had extensive input with the Deputy Premier’s Department staff on their ideas about how a reformed R4R should look as well. So MERC and its members representations are having a major input into how the program will look in the future. They plan to have the new R4R implemented early in 2020.

 

Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)

Given the changes to the Planning and Environment portfolios in Cabinet recently (Hon Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning & Public Places) is back in charge of this very important portfolio, consequently, it is not known if RAF will be retained nor is it likely that a further meeting will be held within the next few months.

If it is scrapped, this will mean that a lot of important relevant information that delegate Cr Hasler (Gunnedah Shire Council) regularly relayed to MERC, will not occur, which will be a shame. MERC resolved at its meetings on 8/9th August to write to the Minister Planning & Public Spaces for the retention of the initiatives put in place by the previous management such as RAF requesting its retention and for the inclusion of a MERC delegate at RAF.

 

Next Meetings of Association for 2019

The next Executive Committee meeting will be on 7th November 2019 at 9am at the Aerodrome, Gloucester, followed by a mine tour organised by Mid Coast Council from 1pm and the Ordinary General Meeting next day on 8th November 2019 at 9am, the Ordinary meeting will be held in the Gloucester RSL Auditorium.

Discussions with Donna Hudson from the MidCoast Council regarding details for accommodation, meetings, mine tour and network dinner have resulted in the establishment of some great arrangements which will be finalised soon, just waiting on confirmations. A tour on the Thursday afternoon is being organised to a coal mine, an old gold mine with bush tucker sampling and a presentation on the recent Rocky Hill mine court case which prevented the mine from operating in a pristine area at the network dinner on Thursday which will be at the Avon Valley Inn, 82 Church St, Gloucester.

The General Manager of MidCoast Council, Adrian Pannucio, attended the MERC meeting on 9th August and distributed a welcome package promoting the regional places to visit on the Mid Coast. Inside the brochures were a lot of options on accommodation and tourist attractions.

For the meetings 7/8th November 2019, the accommodation options are many and varied and all of them can be found on the www.barringtoncoastbusinesshub.com.au site or on the MidCoast Council site. Motels in Gloucester:

  • Bucketts Way Motel, 19 Church St, ph 02 65582588,
  • Coppers Hill Motel, 11 Church St, ph 0427589075,
  • Roundabout Inn Motel & Pub, 28 Church St 02 65581816,
  • King St Boutique Motel, 52 King St ph 02 65589020;
  • Gloucester Country Lodge Motel, 4663 92 (2k out on the Buckets Way)

Gloucester Caravan Park end of Denison St at Boundary St, ph 02 65581720, B & B’s, self contained units and riverside cabins are available.

The meeting cycle for 2020 will be determined at the Annual General Meeting. Dates will be confirmed by the Executive in consultation with the host Councils, but by sticking with the pattern of second Thursday/Friday in the aforementioned months is what MERC is working on for your diaries. This fits in with Country Mayors and the member Council meeting cycles.

 

Membership Campaign

The Association at its May meeting in 2018, adopted a Marketing Policy to ensure membership increases by targeting more renewable energy development affected LGA’s in NSW and to formalise and strengthen the membership campaign. If any delegates have any colleagues in Local Government that may be interested in being part of our voice, please contact the Executive Officer.

 

Speakers for next meetings of MERC

The Executive Officer is finalising the following speakers for the meeting in Gloucester 8th November 2019:

  • Caitlin Sandercock, Jonathon Wheaton & Chris Hangar, Resources NSW, on review of Resources for Regions and the new program details ;
  • Hon Adam Marshall, Minister for Agriculture & Minister for Western NSW on regional issues;

MERC is awaiting confirmation from the following speakers for future meetings:

  • Hon Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning & Public Spaces, Liberal Party;
  • Hon Matt Kean, Minister for Energy & Environment, Liberal Party;
  • Hon John Barilaro, Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW, Investment & Trade, Leader of NSW National Party.

Other relevant Opposition party members and government senior officers will also be pursued for meetings as required.

 

Life Membership Updates – Mitchell & Connor

Life membership badge, plaque and certificate will be presented to ex Cr Chris Connor at the November Ordinary meeting in Gloucester. Col has advised he will liaise with the Executive Officer to attend a future meeting when able to in view of his ongoing medical treatments.

 

Coal Seam Gas Policy

The amended Coal Seam Gas Policy has now been improved with the addition of the double casing minimum and cementing of all bores from the well head (ground) to the production horizon (extraction zone at the bottom of the well) details, however there are still some minor changes to be made in the wording to reflect statutory changes since the policy was first adopted in 2014 and is still not been finalised. Thereafter, a copy of the amended policy will be forwarded to delegates for their information and/or consideration.

 

Research Fellowship Update

In recent discussions with the PhD student, arrangements are being made to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the UTS which will outline details on insurances, performance measures, exit strategies, roles, finances, etc. Peter Dupen and Juan Castilla – Rho addressed delegates at the August meeting on progress with the project, grant options and possible projects.

The NSW Minerals Council CEO have been approached about being part of this PhD project as a sponsor and the CEO requested a submission which has been forwarded to him. Since then, the Executive Officer, PhD student Peter and Professor Juan Castilla – Rho, Chair Cr Peter Shinton and Cr Owen Hasler met with them on 9th August 2019 to present the case to the NSWMC Director of Planning. The meeting with NSWMC didn’t engender much confidence in them coming on board initially however time was limited and Peter and Juan were going to approach them to do a full presentation with CEO Steve Galilee present.

In the meantime, Peter Dupen is canvassing other entities to be involved in the project as sponsors and is seeking other grant options.

 

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues

“Councils declare climate emergencies” July 17th 2019, Rebecca Gredley, Australia Associated Press (AAP) writes: Millions live in areas facing a “climate emergency” as a rising number of councils advocate action. Close to three million Australians are living in a declared “climate emergency”, as more local councils take a stand and demand urgent action. But the federal environment minister thinks councils should stick to collecting the bins. About five per cent, or 28, of the nation’s 537 local councils have called for urgent climate action, with some planning to move their chambers to 100 per cent renewable energy. The Australian councils are part of 800 across the globe to have declared climate emergencies, encompassing more than 140 million people worldwide. The tally is being tracked by Climate Emergency Mobilisation, an advocate group based in Australia. Victoria’s Darebin City Council was the first to take the leap in 2016. Darebin has taken a steering role among other local administrations, leading a national climate emergency conference last year.

The most recent Australian summer was the hottest in recorded history, with fruit cooking on trees while bushfires and floods crippled local communities. The council group includes the ACT government, which has pledged to prioritise emission reductions in its decision-making. The Sydney and Hobart city councils have also made the call.

Some councils are aiming for 100 per cent renewable energy and zero net emissions, with others instead pledging to lobby state and federal politicians on climate change action. South Australia’s Gawler Town Council is preparing community action plans for extreme weather events, including providing safe shelters for the homeless in heatwaves.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley did not say if she would declare such an emergency, but she thinks local councils should focus on dealing with local environmental issues, such as household rubbish. “I think ratepayers would expect to see their councils leading practical action on local environmental issues and focusing on things they can address locally,” Ms Ley told AAP. “Local government plays an important environmental role managing waste and recycling, and in maintaining local areas. I think that is what local communities would most like to see from their councils.”

The minister said the government had been clear about the need to tackle climate change, with its $3.5 billion climate solutions plan and $100 million for environmental restoration.

But the Australian Greens believe the government must go a step further. “Australia needs to follow the lead of other governments here and abroad by declaring a climate emergency,” Melbourne MP Adam Bandt told AAP. “The Greens are working with other MPs to get federal parliament to take this significant step.” For more details refer www.aap.com

 

“Fresh threats to solar plant construction boom” Angela McDonald Smith, Australian Financial Review, 8th August 2019, writes: After grappling with grid bottlenecks and the collapse of a contractor, the large-scale solar power sector is now facing a new set of risks.

Investors and suppliers involved in Australia’s booming large-scale solar sector are grappling with an escalation of risks around pricing, grid access and profitability that are threatening to dramatically slow the industry’s rampant growth.

Construction of the country’s mega pipeline of large solar plants has fallen behind schedule this year, with transmission constraints, grid connections, policy uncertainty and the fallout from the collapse of constructor RCR Tomlinson all coming into play, according to consultancy Rystad Energy. For more details refer www.afr.com.au

 

‘Coal towns see sulphur spike” 26th August 2019, Industrial Careers article.

An international review has found Australian regions with coal-fired power stations are among hot spots for sulphur dioxide pollution. The new report drawing on NASA data found pollution hotspots in the La Trobe Valley in Victoria and the Hunter Valley in NSW. It ranks Australia as the world’s 12th biggest emitted of sulphur dioxide (SO2) – which is emitted largely by the burning of fossil fuels and the extraction of copper. The report is accessible here.

The biggest source of SO2 in Australia is a complex of mining operations with lead and copper smelters in Queensland’s Mount Isa. India is the top emitter, followed by Russia, China, Mexico and Iran, according to the Greenpeace report. The regions that made the list are near at least one coal-burning power station. The Victorian SO2 hotspot covers an area populated by 470,000 people, while the NSW area covers 1.7 million.

Sulphur dioxide reacts to form toxic particles that contribute to health conditions such as dementia and heart and lung disease.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner Jonathan Moylan says air pollution contributes to more premature deaths each year than road accidents. He believes the data should compel authorities to consider urgently replacing coal-fired power stations. “Australia’s power stations are some of the dirtiest in the world because they are allowed to emit up to eight times more air pollution that power stations in China,” Mr Moylan said.

The federal and state and territory environmental ministers are reviewing Australia’s sulphur dioxide standards, which are currently 10 times higher than those in World Health Organization guidelines. For mrore details go to www.industrialcareer.com.au

 

Hydro project to flush gold town” 4th September 2019, Industrial Careers article. Proponents are plugging a big pumped hydro project at Kidston in North Queensland. Kidston – located about 270km north-west of Townsville – currently has just four permanent residents, a big drop from its heyday as a gold mining hub in decades past. Now, two disused gold mine pits are set to be converted into Australia’s fourth pumped storage hydro facility.

Genex Power says its 250mW Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro project has secured most approvals and funding, including a Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility loan of up to $610 million. One of the last hurdles was getting the Queensland Government to help fund the construction of a high voltage transmission line to link the project to the National Electricity Market.

Queensland has this week announced Powerlink will build a single circuit transmission line and substations from Kidston to Mount Fox, as part of a $132 million package. There have been years of debate about the proposed transmission line, as it traverses 16 privately-owned properties.

The owner of one of the properties has fought against the route because of concerns it would ruin his organic certification for his cattle, fruit trees, and crops.

Queensland Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Anthony Lynham, said Powerlink would consider all concerns. “Powerlink will be negotiating with properties and they will be starting very shortly indeed,” he said. “Their concerns are certainly taken into account.”

Genex CEO James Harding says the pumped hybro project will create more than 350 construction jobs over three and a half years — mostly fly in, fly out from Townsville — as well as around 700 construction jobs when building the transmission line, solar and wind components of the project.

“We have an expectation there will be between 20 to 25 long-term direct employment positions and you can multiply that by a factor of two or three for indirect jobs,” Mr Harding said.

Experts say the Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro project will boost electricity stability. “There is an urgent need for this pumped storage capacity,” Professor Jamie Pittock from the Fenner School of Environment at Australian National University (ANU) has told the ABC. “More and more Australians are putting solar panels on the roof and we’re seeing this welcome investment in wind farms. We need to be able to store the excess electricity when the wind is blowing at 2am or the sun is burning bright at lunch time.”

ANU engineering professor Andrew Blakers agreed that it would be beneficial. North Queensland can supply anticorrelated solar and wind electricity to the south,” Dr Blakers said. “Wind and solar, supported by storage in north Queensland, can make north Queensland independent of grid disruptions for electricity flowing from the south.”

The Genex CEO said the project would reduce wholesale electricity prices. “The effect of the pumped hydro project generating into the network in peak times will act to depress those peak prices,” Mr Harding said. “The overall benefit will be over $500 million over the term of the project.” For more details refer www.industrialcareer.com.au

 

“Coal approval linked to Paris Agreement’ 3rd September 2019, Industrial Careers article. The new United Wambo open cut coal ‘super pit’ for NSW’s Hunter Valley has been approved with export conditions.

NSW’s Independent Planning Commission (IPC) has given the green light to the $381 million United Wambo Coal Project, allowing it to extract an additional 150 million tonnes over a 23-year period.

However, the IPC has stipulated that any coal extracted from the new ‘super pit’ near Singleton can only be exported to countries that have ratified the Paris Climate Agreement, or effective greenhouse gas-reduction policies.

Environmentalists have welcomed the conditions. “A condition like this has never been imposed on an Australian coal mine in my experience,” said Lock The Gate coordinator Georgina Woods. “It is unprecedented really to start putting the Australian coal export industry, of which the Hunter is really the core, into a global context of climate change and efforts to mitigate it.”

The Wambo Coal Mine and United Coal Mine, which has been under care and maintenance since 2010, will now be joined as one new ‘super pit’ operation. The companies behind the joint venture, Glencore and Peabody, say the revived mine will provide 500 full-time-equivalent jobs and extract up to 10 million tonnes a year for 23 years, running 24 hours, seven days a week.

The NSW Minerals Council has labelled the export condition as “curious” but welcomed the approval.

“It’s a good shot in the arm for the sector to see this approval after so long,” chief executive Stephen Galilee said. “I know from visiting the site recently that there was a lot of anxiety among the workforce there in relation to this application and to have it approved … will give them a lot of peace of mind for the future.” Mr Galilee said minimising the impacts of mining is an “ongoing challenge”.

“As an industry, we’re very aware of the need to minimise our impacts and maximise the benefits and that is a heightened awareness because so many of our mining families live in those communities near the mines where they work,” he said.

“We support the Paris Climate Agreement, our industry supports the national government of Australia meeting its Paris Climate Agreement commitments. “We know we have a role to play there.”

Glencore and Peabody say they are “currently in the process of reviewing the details within the IPC’s conditions of approval”. Refer www.industrialcareer.com.au for more detials

 

“Littleproud demands dams” 3rd September 2019, Industrial Careers article: Federal Water Minister David Littleproud has slammed state governments for not building dams. With extended drought conditions continuing, some towns in New South Wales and Queensland are running out of drinking water.

Mr Littleproud says building dams is not a federal government responsibility, and states have done very little to help. “The states are doing three-fifths of bugger all in terms of building infrastructure to supply urban water as well as agricultural water,” he told reporters in the South Australian town of Renmark. We have to hold them to account.”

Of the 19 dams built since 2003, 16 have been in Tasmania. Mr Littleproud says the eastern states need to do more. “They’ve abrogated their responsibility on so many occasions,” he said. “They use us as their ATM when they hit a problem but they don’t deserve sometimes to have the responsibility they have.”

He said the federal government has billions on the table for states to invest in water infrastructure.

He had some slightly more positive words in regard to delivering the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. “The yelling and screaming has stopped,” Mr Littleproud said. “If we all play nice, we lead rather than politicise, we can get this done.”

Mr Littleproud has toured the southern basin with interim Murray-Darling Basin inspector general Mick Keelty.

 

Contacts

Clr Peter Shinton (Chair) peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au 0268492000 or Greg Lamont (Executive Officer) 0407937636, info@miningrelatedcouncils.asn.au.

MERC Newsletter July 2019

Introduction

Delegates, here is the July 2019 MERC Newsletter.This newsletter has a lot of important information in it for you to read, please circulate this to your fellow Councillors and senior staff, so they can appreciate and understand the excellent work the Association and you are doing on behalf of your Council and community, with regard to mining and energy related matters.

 

Update on the Voluntary Planning Agreement Steering Committee

Another meeting of the Steering Committee is to be held 23 August 2019 to consider the position paper by MERC (to review Umwelt’s Worker Domicile Model and to identify any impacts which are not included in that model which MERC considers should be the subject of financial contributions through VPAs, plus the methodologies for their calculation).

The Committee agreed to work together to develop a VPA framework agreement (including scope and calculation methodologies) for consideration at the next Committee meeting. Both parties agreed that the future of the Committee should be considered if no substantive progress was made at the next meeting.

Resources for Regions (R4R) versus a Royalties for Regions – Media Release, etc.

MERC will continue to canvas the new NSW Government for changes to the current Resources for Regions program to resemble a Royalties for Regions one. There is widespread support for changing the existing program to a Royalties for Region program with a set percentage being allocated to mining and energy affected Councils for infrastructure, social and economic impact addressing.

Hon John Barilaro has advised he is unable to attend the MERC meeting on 9th August to discuss Resources for Regions reform, however he has organised for his Senior Policy Officer and Policy Officer to meet with a delegation from MERC to meet and discuss the current program and alternative approaches to ensure a reasonable return of royalties to invest inregional infrastructure programs. More later, but word is out that the imposition of the BCR requirement for  grants is to is to be reviewed and even probably wiped!

 

Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)

Given the changes to the Planning and Environment portfolios in Cabinet recently (Hon Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning & Public Places) is back in charge of this very important portfolio, consequently, it is not known if RAF will be retained nor is it likely that a further meeting will be held within the next few months.

If it is scrapped, this will mean that a lot of important relevant information that delegate Cr Hasler (Gunnedah Shire Council) regularly relayed to MERC, will not occur, which will be a shame.

 

Next Meetings of Association for 2019

The next Executive Committee meeting will be on 8th August 2019 at 2pm and the Ordinary General Meeting next day on 9th August 2019 at 9am, both meetings will be held in the Club York second floor meeting rooms, 99 York St, Sydney, same as for the February meetings.

Mid Coast Council have now confirmed they will host the November meetings in Gloucester on 7/8th November 2019 and preliminary discussions with Donna Hudson from the Council regarding details, has been held. Accommodation options will be forwarded in due course. A tour for the the Thursday afternoon is being organised to a coal mine and an old gold mine with bush tucker sampling and a presentation on the recent Rocky Hill mine court case which prevented the mine from operating in a pristine area.

The General Manager from Mid Coast Council, Adrian Pannucio will be attending the MERC meeting on 9th August and will be distributing a welcome package promoting the visit and regional places to visit on the Mid Coast.

The meeting cycle for 2020 will be determined at the Annual General Meeting. Dates will be confirmed by the Executive in consultation with the host Councils, but by sticking with the pattern of second Thursday/Friday in the aforementioned months is what MERC is working on for your diaries.

 

Membership Campaign

The Association at its May meeting in 2018, adopted a Marketing Policy to ensure membership increases by targeting more renewable energy development affected LGA’s in NSW and to formalise and strengthen the membership campaign. If any delegates have any colleagues in Local Government that may be interested in being part of our voice, please contact the Executive Officer.

The Executive Officer is still pursuing Coonamble Shire Council and Brewarrina Shire Council following recent discussions with the respective Mayors plus invitations have been sent to Lake Macquarie City Council to also attend the next MERC meeting in Sydney in August 2019.

 

Speakers for next meetings of MERC

The Executive Officer has confirmed the following speakers for the meeting in Sydney 9th August 2019:

  • Felicity Greenway, DPIE, Acting Executive Director of the Ethics Unit to address delegates on the 19 recommendations of the Kaldas Review Report, which the DPIE have adopted all of them and progress with them;
  • Sarah Patience, DPIE, Senior Policy Officer, Legislative Updates on the Plain English Planning Guide;
  • Tony Corbett, Port of Newcastle, Trade & Business Development Manager, for an update on mineral movements out of the Port of Newcastle recent changes;
  • David Kitto, Executive Director, Resource Assessments and Business System, DPIE on his role and on any changes proposed with planning assessments;
  • Jessica Rossell, DPIE, Resources Planning and Geosciences for an update on their review of monitoring mining processes in NSW.

MERC is awaiting confirmation from the following speakers for future meetings:

  • Hon Adam Marshall, Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW, National Party;
  • Hon Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning & Public Spaces, Liberal Party;
  • Hon Matt Kean, Minister for Energy & Environment, Liberal Party;
  • Hon John Barilaro, Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW, Investment & Trade, Leader of NSW National Party.

Other relevant Opposition party members and government senior officers will also be pursued for meetings as required.

 

Life Membership Updates – Mitchell, Connor and Cr Brady OAM

Life membership badges, plaques and certificates will be presented to Cr Lilliane Brady OAM at the August Ordinary meeting in Sydney with Chris Connor opting for Gloucester in November 2019. Col has advised he is unable to attend due to urgent medical treatment on the day.

 

Coal Seam Gas Policy

The amended Coal Seam Gas Policy was adopted with some minor changes. However, a Notice of Motion has been submitted to the August meeting by Cr Mark Hall, Lachlan Shire Council, proposing that further changes be included in relation to the double casing of bores. He has presented a paper on the arguments for it for delegates consideration. Thereafter a copy of the amended policy will be forwarded to delegates for their information and/or consideration.

 

Research Fellowship Update

In recent discussions with the PhD student, arrangements are being made to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the UTS which will outline details on insurances, performance measures, exit strategies, roles, finances, etc. However discussions on the projects are yet to occur. Peter Dupen and Juan Castilla – Rho will address delegates at the August meeting on progress with the project, grant options and possible projects.

The NSW Minerals Council CEO has been approached about being part of this PhD project as a sponsor and the CEO requested a submission which has been forwarded to him. Since then, the Executive Officer, PhD student Peter and Professor Juan Castilla – Rho have been invited to present the case to the NSWMC CEO and Director of Planning who at this stage seem interested in sponsorship. Fingers crossed that they come on board.

 

NSW Minerals Council Health, Safety, Environment and Community Awards

The Executive Officer was invited to be on the judging panel of the subject awards for the Environment and Community categories with three other people with relevant backgrounds. An extensive judging process was undertaken on 26th June 2019 and the awards will be announced and presented on 5th August 2019. The Executive Officer will be in attendance as a guest an following is the finalists in the respective award categories.

 

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues

“NSW Minerals Council Mining Awards” Being held on 5 August 2019 and provided here for the information of delegates which demonstrates what can be done to improve the impact of mining in your community and mining affectcted LGA’s:

HEALTH EXCELLENCE

Glencore – Glencore’s Ravensworth Open Cut Mine is 25km from Singleton and provides over 520 jobs. In 2015, the mine was experiencing an unacceptable amount of fatigue-related incidents among haul-truck drivers and knew something had to be done. The mine implemented the “GuardVant OpGuard Fatigue Monitoring System” on the 54 haul trucks on the site, which monitors and alerts the operator if it detects fatigue.

The system works by looking for signs of micro-sleeping or lulls in activity. Using the system, the mine works with haul-truck drivers to investigate and mitigate lifestyle and other factors which may contribute to increased fatigue.  The GuardVant system has proven to be an effective technological system for monitoring operator fatigue at Ravensworth. A review six months after the system was implemented found a 450% increase in operators taking breaks to avoid fatigue.

This success at Ravensworth has resulted in the installation of the GuardVant system in haul trucks at all Glencore Coal Australia open-cut operations. 

 

Whitehaven Coal Given the dark, wet and rocky environment in underground mines, it’s no surprise that foot and ankle injuries are some of the most common experienced by miners.  In response to reports of foot, ankle and leg pain from the 300 strong workforce at Whitehaven Coal’s Narrabri Underground mine, the mine approached Gunnedah-based podiatrist Penny Crawford to design footwear which could replace the current gumboots that the miners were using. 

 Alongside a team of industrial designers, specialised manufacturers and traditional rubber boot craftsmen, Penny developed the WedgeTech Personalised Lock-Fit System. The System works by locking the foot into a stable position into the boot. After six months, the mine conducted a trial with miners wearing the specially made boots and found that 24 out of 25 participants would recommend the boots over other boots and their ratings for the boot far exceeded the ratings for non-Crawford boots.  Another trial 12 months later found that 75 percent of the original participants were still using the Crawford boot, where other boots would be worn through every four months.

Whitehaven Coal now plans to introduce these new boots more broadly on site and educate its workplace about proper footwear. 

 

SAFETY EXCELLENCE

Centennial CoalCentennial Coal’s Myuna Mine in west Lake Macquarie employs over 250 people. The mine uses the herringbone mining system, part of which requires a mesh strap to be attached to the ceiling every 1.5 metres to hang ventilation tubes. However, Centennial found that this method led to an increase in shoulder injuries which, in turn, led to delays in production.

In an effort to address these issues, the Myuna Innovations Team met with its workforce to develop an alternative approach, which led to the ‘Monorail Bracket System’ that hangs down from the mine ceiling, eliminating the need for miners to install anything above their heads.

The elimination of mesh, in favour of the brackets, drastically lowered operating costs by around $500,000 a year, increased productivity and, most importantly, enhanced the health and safety of Myuna Mine’s employees. 

Newcrest MiningNewcrest Mining’s Cadia Valley Operations outside of Orange is a major employer in the Central West region. Providing hundreds of direct jobs and supporting hundreds more across the local economy. When a rolling R29000 bucket dislodged a crane travelling beam from its rails during maintenance, causing it to collapse, the team at Cadia Valley Operations knew things had to change to ensure the safety of maintenance crews.

After extensive research, the Cadia team couldn’t find a purpose-built Bucket Rotational Stand on the market – so they decided to design and build one themselves.  The manoeuvrability of the bucket in the Rotational Stand allows maintenance personnel safer and more effective access to work areas, eliminating the need to climb on top of the bucket or work in positions that are ergonomically challenging.

In the ten months since the Bucket Rotational Stand was commissioned for use, all bucket repairs have been carried out on site, resulting in improved workflows, lower costs and significantly lower risk to workers.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL EXCELLENCE

Whitehaven Coal Whitehaven Coal’s use of ecological burns in their approved Biodiversity Offsets for its Maules Creek Coal Mine in Boggabri is demonstrating leading practice for the dual purpose of ecological restoration and bushfire hazard mitigation. Since 2013, Whitehaven has been trialing ecological burns, using experienced and capable professional hazard reduction fire contractors.  This means the ecological burns are implemented competently and safely with the support of key regulators and the community. 

Standard methods of ground preparation for revegetation, like ‘ripping’ and ‘mounding’, can disturb existing native vegetation, impacting the woodland/grassland condition and allowing weeds into the Biodiversity Offsets. Ecological burns involve using fire to control exotic species and promote native flora species diversity, with fire being an important and often beneficial form of disturbance in woodlands. Ecological burns during late autumn and winter are cool, low-intensity fires that remove dry material but do not scorch native grasses and trees.

The results show that Whitehaven Coal is delivering actual biodiversity outcomes from ecological burn management.

Yancoal Australia – Located in the Southern part of the Gloucester Basin, Yancoal’s Duralie Coal Mine has identified a marvelous way to protect endangered and native fauna through the use of Nest Boxes. Large areas within the Gloucester Valley have been cleared through logging, leading to a loss of native vegetation and damaging the biodiversity in the area. This has meant a lack of hollow-bearing habitat resources in trees for local fauna, as the majority of the vegetation is regrowth and too young to contain hollows for fauna to live in.

To fix this problem, as part of their biodiversity offset strategy, the team at Duralie developed an idea to build artificial nest boxes which provide a habitat for a range of endemic native birds, mammals and bats.

Running since 2012, the Nest Box Program has exceeded expectations, with a plan to expand the program to accommodate more species.

 

COMMUNITY EXCELLENCE

CMOC-Northparkes Mines Located 27 kilometres north-northwest of Parkes and employing over 300 people, Northparkes has proudly supported the White Ribbon Campaign since becoming the first mine and one of the first private businesses in Australia to become a White Ribbon accredited workplace in 2016, joining others organisations committed to preventing and responding to domestic and family violence.

As one of the Central West’s largest employers, Northparkes takes its role in breaking the cycle of family and domestic very seriously. Through the promotion of respectful relationships and gender equality in the workplace, Northparkes have created a culture of zero tolerance of family and domestic violence. They encourage their employees to stand up and speak out to challenge inappropriate behaviors.

 A number of their employees have volunteered their time to support programs and events within the Parkes and Forbes Shires that aim to raise awareness of family and domestic violence. These events include the White Ribbon Marches in Parkes and Forbes, the Love Bites Program, Boys Night In and the White Ribbon Rugby League Cup.

Idemitsu Australia Resources Idemitsu Australia Resources’ Boggabri Coal Mine, which employs 600 people, has worked closely with the traditional owners of the land, the Kamilaroi people, to provide an educational resource that can be used by all Australians to improve their cultural awareness and understanding of the Kamilaroi Nation.

Made in consultation with members of the Kamilaroi Nation, the 20-minute film portrays the Dreamtime stories and the cultural traditions of the Kamilaroi. The team at Boggabri Coal hosted screenings of the film to the public and has given a copy to all local schools to raise awareness of the area’s rich indigenous connection. 

This is a world-class example of a mining company investing in a project to highlight the significance of and cultural connection to ‘country’ by traditional owners. The standard that Boggabri Coal has achieved with its production ‘The Kamilaroi’ evoked genuine emotion and interest from members of the public, teachers and students alike.

 

Victorian solar industry in crisis, as August rebates run out within hour Clean Energy Council media release 1st August 2019 reports that:

Urgent changes are needed to the Victorian Solar Homes program or large numbers of small businesses in the state will go bust in the months ahead, the Clean Energy Council said today after the monthly allocation of rebates for August ran out within 106 minutes.

Darren Gladman, Clean Energy Council Director – Distributed Energy said the program is threatening the survival of small solar businesses and some are already looking at closing their doors. “Solar Homes has created a devastating boom-bust which is hitting many small solar businesses hard,” Mr Gladman said. “Because the majority of Victorians are able to access the program, people are holding off installing solar altogether until they can claim the rebates. It means the state’s solar industry is being turned on and off like a tap – and for the whole of August the tap was only on for a couple of hours.  

“Government programs should not be like trying to buy concert tickets, where access depends on whether you can get through in the few hours that it is open. The intention of the program was welcome, but the way it is being rolled out is turning into a worst-case scenario for the state’s solar industry. This is obviously the opposite of what was intended. Along with the industry’s woes, it appears that some consumers were unable to access the system this morning, aggravating those who were trying to take advantage of the program.

“The industry has put forward a range of options to improve Solar Homes, but the first step to fixing it, is recognition that there is a problem. We are calling on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to urgently intervene and lead a review to revisit the criteria for the program,” he said. Refer www.cleanergycouncil.org.au for more details.

“Clean power to provide 35% energy” Industrial Careers, 29th July 2019 article says:

Thirty-five per cent of Australia’s electricity needs will be met by clean sources within two years, analysts say. New data shows solar power is rapidly transforming the national energy market, with rooftop systems and new large-scale farms regularly pushing renewable energy beyond 30 per cent of total generation at midday during June.

Wind, hydro and solar power were responsible for up 22.3 per cent of electricity used in June. Clean energy generation peaked at 39.2 per cent in the middle of the day on 30 June.

“What we are seeing now is just a glimpse of what’s ahead because you’ve still got a substantial number of solar farms coming through,” said Tristan Edis, a Green Energy Markets director and analyst. We’re going to be regularly having 50 per cent of renewables – solar, wind and hydro – across the national electricity market in the middle of the day in the next 12 months. But it is also soon going to get hard to get new stuff built.”

Many recent large-scale clean power plants have been funded on a commercial basis by businesses looking for cheap power while wholesale electricity prices were high. But Mr Edis says that the lack of federal policy to drive grid transformation will see investment slow until the circumstances in the market changed – for example the closure of a coal-fired power plant.

“It just shows how crazy this idea is that we should go and build another coal-fired generator to run as baseload,” he said “If we do that it just means another coal-fired power plant is going to shut down because nothing can outcompete solar and wind.” Refer www.industrialcareers.com.au for more details.

“Solar waste investigated” Industrial Carerrs, 29th July 2019 says in its article:

Experts are investigating better ways to dispose of solar panels. There are no laws on solar industry waste, which experts predict could weigh a total of 1,500 kilotons by 2050.

Currently, at most waste sites, only the panels’ aluminium frames can be recycled, leaving large sheets of glass and back sheets embedded with cells going to landfill. The only facility in Australia that recycles solar panels is Reclaim PV in Adelaide. No official data on solar waste is being collected, so Professor Rodney Stewart from Griffith University has been trying for himself.

“It’s not a big waste stream at the moment. It’s a relatively small waste stream because most of the solar panels installed have only been installed in the past decade,” he told the ABC. “These panels last 15, 20, 25 years. So the problem is coming. “We have estimates that by 2050 we’ll have 1,500 kilotons of solar PV waste being disposed of.” He said one problem is that some elements of solar panel modules can be toxic.

“Some of those, if they’re in landfill, could leach into groundwater and get into water systems,” he said. “And these are sometimes rare earth materials or types of materials we want to re-use because the extraction of those minerals in mining is energy-intensive.”

The Federal Government is looking at new rules, including adding solar panels to the Product Stewardship Act, which mandates how electronic waste is dealt with. Professor Stewart said it may be hard to enforce any hard laws. “We need the industry to actually create some authorities to self-regulate and push their members to improve their rates of refurbishment or enabling recycling of components,” he said “And then those free-riders that aren’t doing that,

They want to just import cheap products that can’t be re-furbished or recycled, then they can’t play in the space in Australia.” Refer www.industrialcareers.com.au for further details.

 

 Clean energy executives planning for the future after two years of record growth Clean Energy Council, media release, dated Tuesday 30 July 2019 reports “Australia’s renewable energy sector has just had its two biggest years in history but the future of the industry remains messy and uncertain, as shown by a survey of senior executives released at the Australian Clean Energy Summit in Sydney today.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said $20 billion of private investment had flowed into large-scale renewable energy in 2018 and it was the biggest ever year for rooftop solar. But the large-scale Renewable Energy Target (RET) has now been achieved and there is no long term policy to give investors certainty beyond 2020.

“While the indicators in the latest Clean Energy Outlook Index are still strong, the level of confidence in the future of clean energy investment has fallen since December 2018. Close to two thirds (62 per cent) of the executives responding expected to increase staffing levels in the next 12 months, compared to 83 per cent in December,” Mr Thornton said. “The industry is navigating a range of challenges. The top concern for those surveyed was grid connection and network access, followed by a lack of federal policy and then unnecessary regulation.

“While the industry is working closely with the Australian Energy Market Operator and the energy networks to address the challenges with the grid, these are complex issues which take time, planning, major investment and political support. Consequently the average confidence level has declined slightly to 6.6 out of 10, down from 7.1 six months ago,” he said. Mr Thornton said while renewable energy investment no longer requires new subsidy, it does require long-term energy policy certainty.

“The momentum of this industry is incredible, but without some form of national policy leadership investment in new clean energy will be more challenging.. I’m looking forward to hearing perspectives about what the future holds from some of the most insightful people in the country and beyond,” he said.

The full results of the Clean Energy Outlook index are available on the Clean Energy Council website. Further details are available on www.cleanergycouncil.org.au site. 

AEMC wants users to sell power back to the grid to guarantee energy demand. Industrial Careers, 22nd July 2019 reports:

The Federal Government’s chief energy advisor says large commercial and industrial users should be able to easily reduce their demand in peak periods and sell it back into the grid, known as ‘demand reduction’. The suggestion is seen a sign of the rising pressure on power generation, especially with the looming closure of the Liddell coal-fired power station in the NSW Hunter Valley.

Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) chair John Pierce says energy demand must be guaranteed in the increasingly uncertain environment. “These are times in which those consumers have agreed not to consume electricity or consume less or later,” Mr Pierce said. “Taking demand pressure off the power system is a substitute for generation and helps tackle rising wholesale prices at peak times, reducing electricity costs for everyone.

“It makes sense to manage demand for electricity if we are going to deliver reliable energy at the least possible cost. “We want to make it more attractive and eventually open it up to be a truly two-sided market where generators and consumers face the same price signals and incentives to either supply or use electricity.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) say’s the proposal would make it more attractive for big energy users to reduce their demand. ACCC chairman Rod Sims said it would be a vital development.

The Australian Energy Council, a lobby for dozens of major electricity and downstream natural gas businesses, said it could be a good idea. “There is no doubt that this rule change and its new settlement arrangements, while an improvement on what was proposed by some parties, will still add complexity to what is an already complex wholesale market settlement arrangement,” it said.

Households and small customers would be excluded under the AEMC’s model, because of consumer protection concerns. However, the AEMC said letting small consumers access the market could be considered after a 12 month review.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said it would give power back to consumers. “Consumers that work together will have improved negotiating power and will get a better deal. That’s an important change,” Mr Taylor said.

Energy consumer advocates at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre say consumers should not be left out. Further details are available on www.industrialcareers.org.au

 

Contacts

Clr Peter Shinton (Chair) peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au 0268492000 or Greg Lamont (Executive Officer) 0407937636, info@mininrelatedcouncils.asn.au.

MERC Newsletter – June 2019

Introduction

Delegates, here is the June 2019 MERC Newsletter.This newsletter has a lot of important information in it for you to read, please circulate this to your fellow Councillors and senior staff, so they can appreciate and understand the excellent work the Association and you are doing on behalf of your Council and community, with regard to mining and energy related matters.

 

Update on the Voluntary Planning Agreement Steering Committee

Another meeting of the Steering Committee is to be held 23 August 2019 to consider the position paper by MERC (to review Umwelt’s Worker Domicile Model and to identify any impacts which are not included in that model which MERC considers should be the subject of financial contributions through VPAs, plus the methodologies for their calculation).

The Committee agreed to work together to develop a VPA framework agreement (including scope and calculation methodologies) for consideration at the next Committee meeting to be held on 23rd August 2019 in Sydney. Both parties agreed that the future of the Committee should be considered if no substantive progress was made at the next meeting.

On 10th May 2019 MERC members agreed that they would support such a mixed contributions model approach consisting of any of the following:

  • A model utilizing a % of Capital Expenditure and/or a cents per Cents per Production cost;
  • A combination of % Capital Expenditure and/or Cents per Production cost of 70% and a Worker Domicile Model of 30%;
  • A worker Domicile Model based upon a sliding scale which recognises the economic befit for the host Council;
  • Each Council has the opportunity to negotiate their own VPA models irrespective of the aforementioned models.

MERC has submitted a paper on the VPA framework agreement including the scope and methodologies for these mixed contributions models and options if use your own models, as agreed to by the MERC VPA working party. Despite this, it was further agreed that if these methodologies are not agreed to or substantive progress can’t be made during the negotiations, then the Chair of the VPA Steering Committee is to be advised that negotiations will cease and MERC will withdraw from the Committee. Feedback from NSWMC is that they don’t think MERC’s paper is a barrier at this stage and there is no indication as yet they will or MERC will withdraw. Early days!

Meanwhile, Glenn Wilcox (Life Member, Warren Shire Council) has provided his “Mining Calculator” to the VPA working party to trial as another option and comments will be provided to delegates about this model in due course. Gunnedah, Lachlan & Singleton are trialing it.

 

Resources for Regions (R4R) versus a Royalties for Regions – Media Release, etc.

MERC will continue to canvas the new NSW Government for changes to the current Resources for Regions program to resemble a Royalties for Regions one. There is widespread support for changing the existing program to a Royalties for Region program with a set percentage being allocated to mining and energy affected Councils for infrastructure, social and economic impact addressing.

The Executive Officer recently had preliminary discussions with Hon Kevin Anderson, Minister for Better Regulation and MP for Tamworth on the need for the Resources for Regions model to be revamped. He said he had received representations from Gunnedah Shire Council, in his electorate and was keen to pursue changing this. A further meeting with he and the Executive Officer will be held soon on this issue, update him on the VPA and PhD projects .

Invitations have been sent to the Minister for Regional Development (Barilaro), Minister for Planning (Stokes) and Minister for Western Region (Marshall) to attend future meetings in 2019 to talk about the need for changes to the Resources for Regions model and to meet with delegates.The NSW Opposition has only recently sorted their portoflios out and the relevant Shadows will be pursued in due course.

NSWMC are keen to be involved with discussions with Ministers on changing the Resources for Regions model and will be undertaking their own lobbying and are happy to work with MERC on this as well.

 

Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)

Given the changes to the Planning and Environment portfolios in Cabinet recently (Hon Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning & Public Places) is back in charge of this very important portfolio, consequently, it is not known if RAF will be retained nor is it likely that a further meeting will be held within the next few months. If it is scrapped, this will mean that a lot of important relevant information that delegate Cr Hasler (Gunnedah Shire Council) regularly relayed to MERC, will not occur.

 

Next Meetings of Association for 2019

The next Executive Committee meeting will be on 8th August 2019 at 2pm and the Ordinary General Meeting next day on 9th August 2019 at 9am, both meetings will be held in the Club York second floor meeting rooms, 99 York St, Sydney, same as for the February meetings.

Mid Coast Council have now confirmed they will host the November meetings in Gloucester on 7/8th November 2019 and preliminary discussions with Donna Hudson from the Council regarding details, has been held. Accommodation options will be forwarded in due course.

The meeting cycle for 2020 will be determined at the Annual General Meeting. Dates will be confirmed by the Executive in consultation with the host Councils, but by sticking with the pattern of second Thursday/Friday in the aforementioned months is what MERC is working on for your diaries.

 

Membership Campaign

The Association at its May meeting in 2018, adopted a Marketing Policy to ensure membership increases by targeting more renewable energy development affected LGA’s in NSW and to formalise and stregthen the membership campaign. If any delegates have any colleagues in Local Government that may be interested in being part of our voice, please contact the Executive Officer.

Unfortunately, delegates would be aware that Wentworth Shire Council has not attended very many meetings and has recently appointed a new General Manager and following a review of their various memberships and the establishment of the Far South West Joint Organisation Council has recently withdrawn from the Association citing the circumstances of mining in their LGA had changed.

The Executive Officer is still pursuing Coonamble Shire Council and had further discussions with the Mayor this week, now that they have engaged a new General Manager, have withdrawn from Orana Joint Organisation of Councils, it was agreed a submission be now forwarded to the Council  General Manager to take to Council. This will include an invitation to attend the next MERC meeting in Sydney in August 2019.

 

Speakers for next meetings of MERC

The Executive Officer has confirmed the following speakers for the meeting in Sydney 9th August 2019:

  • Felicity Greenway, DPE (PIE), Acting Executive Director of the Integrity & Ethics Unit to address delegates on the 19 recommendations of the Kaldas Review Report, which the DPE (PIE) have adopted all of them and progress with them;
  • Tony Corbett, Port of Newcastle, Trade & Business Development Manager, for an update on mineral movements out of the Port of Newcastle recent changes;
  • David Kittoes, Executive Director, Resource Assessments and Business System, DPIE on his role and on any changes proposed with planning assessments;
  • Dr Alex King or Kristina Erzikov & Jessica Rossell, DPIE, Resources Planning and Geosciences for an update on their review of monitoring mining processes in NSW.

MERC is awaiting confirmation from the following speakers for future meetings when congratulating them on their re election and ministerial appointments:

  • Hon Adam Marshall, Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW, National Party;
  • Hon Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning & Public Spaces, Liberal Party;
  • Hon Matt Kean, Minister for Energy & Environment, Liberal Party;
  • Hon John Barilaro, Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW, Investment & Trade

Other relevant Opposition party members and government senior officers will also be pursued for meetings as required when known formally as they were only announced 3rd July 2019.

 

Life Membership Updates – Mitchell, Connor and Cr Brady OAM

Life membership badges, plaques and certificates will be presented to Cr Lilliane Brady OAM and Col Mitchell at the August Ordinary meeting in Sydney with Chris Connor opting for Gloucester in November 2019. Both Col & Lilliane have confirmed their attendances.

 

Coal Seam Gas Policy

The amended Coal Seam Gas Policy was adopted with some minor changes. However, a Notice of Motion will be submitted to the August meeting by Cr Mark Hall, Lachlan Shire Council, proposing that further changes be included in relation to the double casing of bores. He will submit a paper on the arguments for it for delegates consideration.

Thereafter a copy of the amended policy will be forwarded to delegates for their information and/or consideration. Still awaiting the NOM details from Cr Hall.

 

Research Fellowship Update

Delegates decided to go with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), (Dr Alexey Voinov and Dr Juan Castilla-Rho) with Peter Dupen as the PhD student to undertake the PhD Research project on participatory modelling of social licensing pathways in view of it being “shovel ready”. This still leaves MERC with the option of undertaking a similar project with the University of Wollongong (UoW) SMART unit on a different topic in due course.

In further recent discussions with the PhD student, arrangements are being made to formalise the grant application and the development of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the UTS which will outline details on insurances, performance measures, exit strategies, roles, finances, etc. However discussions on the projects are yet to occur.

The MERC working party will be involved in this and on how the project will work to benefit MERC members in due course. Peter Dupen and Juan Castilla – Rho will address delegates at the August meeting on progress with the project, grant options and possible projects.

The NSW Minerals Council CEO has been approached about being part of this PhD project as a sponsor and the CEO requested a submission which has been forwarded to him. Since then, the Executive Officer, PhD student Peter and Professor Juan Castilla – Rho have been invited to present the case to the NSWMC CEO who at this stage seem interested in sponsorship. T

he Director Policy, NSWMC has informed the Executive Officer that NSWMC are keen to work with MERC irrespective of the VPA negotiations on this project and the Resources for Regions changes. Fingers crossed that they come on board.

 

NSW Minerals Council Health, Safety, Environment and Community Awards

The Executive Officer was invited to be on the judging panel of the subject awards for the Environment and Community categories with three other people with relevant backgrounds. An extensive judging process was undertaken on 26th June 2019 and the awards will be announced and presented on 5th August 2019. The Executive Officer will be in attendance as guest.

 

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues

Santos Gas plan has hurdles to clear: Stokes” Peter Hannam, Environment editor says the minister in charge of assessing the $3 billion caol seam gas project pro;osed by Santos for the NSW north west says the process is ingoing, downplaying speculation that the approval is imminent. Rob Stokes the Planning & Public Spaces Minister told the Herald the Berejiklian governmnet had made no decision on its assessment of the controversila Narrabri Gas Project, contrary to media reports it was “on track to be approved” by the years end.

“In NSW we make no apology for having robust and thorough processes for major projects which have significant implications for the state, its people and its resources” Mt Stokes said.

The plan to drill 850 CSG wells many of them within the Pilliga state forest, is being considered by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Deputy Premier and Resources Minister John Barilaro said “there was no deadline for detrmining the application”, adding the Independent Planning Commission would need to sign off on it. For further details refer to www.smh.com.au.

Mine hits paydirt after 16 year wait”  Edward Boyd, Daily Telegraph, 22nd June 2019 writes

A proposed coal mine on the NSW Central Coast has been approved by the NSW government after a 16 year application process.

The Wallarah 2 coal project at Wyong has been granted a mining lease and will be able to extract up to 5m tonnes of export quality thermal coal each year. The proposed underground mine will support more than 1000 direct and indirect jobs during construction, 300 direct jobs in the mining operation for the 28 years of the mine, and another 500 indirect jobs in the building, transport and other associated sectors.

The joint venture mine is managed by Wyong Coal Prt Ltd which is 82.25% owned by Korean mining company Kores. The mine is predicted to generate more than $600 million in economic turnover in the Central Coast economy over it’s lifespan.

NSW Minerals Council CEO, Stephen Galilee welcomed the decision: “This is a very positive sign that the recently elected NSW government is serious about backing regional jobs and investment. “

Coal plans aims for aboriginal advance1st July 2019, Industrial Careers writes:

A bid has been launched to build a $2 billion Indigenous-led coal-fired power station in Collinsville in North Queensland. Brisbane-based Indigenous company Shine Energy says its planned project could create about 2,000 jobs during its construction phase and 600 once operations begin, with a focus on Indigenous employment.

Local are expected to welcome the notion, with Collinsville’s population having declined by 50 per cent over ten years, leaving the town struggling to survive. Shine Energy Australia said if gets approval, the Collinsville project would be Australia’s first high efficient low emission ultra-super critical coal-fired power. The company is also looking at building a solar PV farm to use for auxiliary power.

Queensland’s Labor Government has a 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 commitment, and Australian Conservation Foundation spokesperson Gavan McFadzean says the Collinsville project is unnecessary. “We shouldn’t be pitching our economic prosperity and jobs to the industries of the past, they should be to the future,” Mr McFazdean said.

“This project just does not pass the test when it comes to clean energy. Collinsville has some of the best solar radiation capacity anywhere on the planet so that’s where we think the future of Queensland’s energy needs are and that’s where the Queensland Government thinks it’s future is.”

Shine Energy CEO Ashley Dodd said investors are being courted. “We’ve had discussions with Credit Swisse anywhere between the $2 billion mark there is a lot of interest out there in the equity and debt market,” Mr Dodd said. “There is plenty of interest outside Australia but it would be great to have the national banks of Australia actually step up and commit to their reconciliation action plan.” Refer www.industrialcareers.com.au

Floating nuclear plant sets sail”  Industrial Careers, 1st July also reports;

A floating Russian nuclear power plant will soon take to the seas. The power plant called the Akademik Lomonosov has been in construction for almost two decades, but will next month be towed via the Northern Sea Route to its final destination in the Far East.

The 144-metre long platform painted in the colours of the Russian flag will float next to a small Arctic port town of Pevek, nearly 6,500km from Moscow. It will be used to supply electricity to settlements and industries in the area, which are mostly involved in extracting hydrocarbons and precious stones.

The Admiral Lomonosov will be the northernmost operating nuclear plant in the world. Just two million Russians reside near the Arctic coast in villages and towns similar to Pevek, but their work generates as much as 20 per cent of country’s GDP.

Proponents say floating nuclear power plants can supply massive amounts of energy to remote areas without long-term commitments, but the concept of a nuclear reactor stationed in the Arctic Sea has drawn criticism from environmentalists.

Greenpeace has dubbed the Lomonosov platform “Chernobyl on Ice”. Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy company, has pushed back against this nickname, saying the criticism is ill founded.

“It’s totally not justified to compare these two projects. These are baseless claims, just the way the reactors themselves operate work is different,” said Vladimir Iriminku, Lomonosov’s chief engineer for environmental protection.

“Of course, what happened in Chernobyl cannot happen again…. And as it’s going to be stationed in the Arctic waters, it will be cooling down constantly, and there is no lack of cold water.”

The scale is indeed very different, with the Chernobyl plant having produced up to 4,000 megawatts, while the Lomonosov can manage a maximum of just 70 megawatts.

Nuclear authorities have drawn more specific parallels with the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan. Project engineers say they paid attention to lessons learned at Fukushima.

“This rig can’t be torn out of moorings, even with a 9-point tsunami, and we’ve even considered that if it does go inland, there is a backup system that can keep the reactor cooling for 24 hours without an electricity supply,” said Dmitry Alekseenko, deputy director of the Lomonosov plant.

Experts at Bellona – a nuclear monitoring NGO – say 24 hours might not be enough to prevent a disaster. The floating reactor comes with a price tag of around AU$450 million, and its designers are looking to enter production of more units.

Rosatom has reportedly spoken to clients from Asia, Africa and South America to purchase next iterations of Akademik Lomonosov. For further details refer www.industrialcareers.com.au

Warwick Giblin now Adjunct Professor at the University of New England”   This information is distributed to delegates to show that MERC only associates with and uses the best consultants available with an interest in MERC activities and this linkage may benefit MERC with potential PhD students in the future as per our Strategic Plan.

Note the following from Warwick: “Humbled and honoured to advise that I have been appointed Adjunct Professor at the University of New England (UNE). This is an honorary position attached to the School of Law. My consulting activities with Oz Environmental Pty Ltd remain unchanged.

UNE has a strong rural focus and am looking forward to sharing my operational experience with staff, students and other stakeholders of the School of Law, the School of Business and more broadly across the Faculty of Science, Agriculture, Business and Law, as appropriate.

At the end of the day my objective is to do whatever I can to improve the environmental, social and economic outcomes for rural society”. 

Mining to push NSW towards surplus with no royalty increase”  New South Wales mining royalties are at record levels and forecast to keep the state budget in surplus over the forward estimates to 2022-23. (Courtesy Ron Zwicker, Wollongong City Council, from an article in the Australian Mining Review recently this article and the one following):

“New South Wales mining royalties are at record levels and forecast to keep the state budget in surplus over the forward estimates to 2022-23, despite the sector having no major impact on the 2019-20 state budget. Mining royalties in NSW are estimated to deliver almost $8 billion, or an annual average of $1.97 billion, to the state over the next four years. In the same period, NSW budget surpluses are expected to average $1.7 billion.

Mining communities across NSW will also reportedly welcome the Treasurer’s move in keeping his pre-election commitment to not increase royalty rates. “Strong royalty revenue is being delivered without increasing royalty rates, unlike other states where royalty increases have been proposed,” NSW Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee said. “Keeping this pre-election commitment will help to protect mining jobs across regional NSW and make NSW a more attractive destination for global mining investment.”

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet in his ‘heartfelt tribute’ recognised a miner in the public gallery at the Parliament, saying, “He knows, as we do, just how much we depend on our miners for their contribution to our economy, and just how much they depend on us to do the right thing by them with policies that help, rather than hurt.”

Galilee pointed out “that there are around 25 mining projects in the NSW planning system, which could use an approval to generate more royalty revenue. Approving these projects would deliver significant benefits for mining communities, for the NSW budget and for the NSW economy more generally,” he concluded.

“Coal to virtually disappear from 2050 electric power system” Coal is forecast to almost completely disappear from Australia’s electricity system by 2050 if governments do not attempt to keep plants online with subsidies, according to the Bloomberg NEF (BNEF) New Energy Outlook 2019.

Coal is forecast to almost completely disappear from Australia’s electricity system by 2050 if governments do not attempt to keep plants online with subsidies, according to the latest economic analysis in the Bloomberg NEF (BNEF) New Energy Outlook 2019.

Coal-fired capacity is predicted to fall from 25 gigawatts in 2018 (generating 63 per cent of the country’s electricity), to 18 gigawatts in 2030, and just six gigawatts in 2040. Power stations will instead be powered by lower-cost renewables, paired with flexible technologies like batteries, pumped-hydro and gas.

These technologies will ensure the power sector does its part in keeping global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius, at least until 2030. Renewables are already the cheapest source of new generation in Australia, and their costs will continue to fall, according to BNEF.

“Australia’s existing fleet of ageing coal plants, which have been the backbone of the electricity sector for years, will be the last coal generators in the country,” BNEF head of Australia Leonard Quong said.

“Cheap renewables, firmed with a variety of storage technologies, have set Australia on a path to achieve low-carbon electricity by 2050. The future grid will be underpinned by cheap wind and solar, with batteries and pumped hydro to smooth variability, while gas and long-duration storage will provide additional backup to the market.”

“Our analysis suggests that governments need to do two separate things – one is to ensure their markets are friendly to the expansion of low-cost wind, solar and batteries; and the other is to back research and early deployment of these other technologies so that they can be harnessed at scale from the 2030s onwards,” BNEF’s New Energy Outlook director Seb Henbest added.

Consumers also play a key role in this transformation, according to Quong. Households and businesses buying solar, batteries and increasingly electric vehicles represents “an economic tidal wave” that will reshape the market.

They have installed around 10 gigawatts of solar on their rooftops today, with the figure set to surge to 38 gigawatt by 2030 as the costs of solar continue to fall and new business models make solar even more accessible to consumers, according to the report.

By 2050, rooftop solar capacity will increase to 61 giga watt, enough to supply nearly one quarter of the country’s electricity demand. At the same time, Australia will invest $US107 billion ($155.6 billion) into renewable energy generation, with coal receiving almost no new capital.

New Energy Outlook 2019 is the result of eight months of analysis and modelling by a 65-strong team at BNEF, based on the announced project pipelines in each country, plus forecast economics of electricity generation and power system dynamics.

It assumes that current subsidies expire and energy policies around the world remain on their current bearing.

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund is divesting from coal and oil”. From Industrial Careers, 17TH June 2019: The country’s Government Pension Fund Global must offload billions in stock after Norway’s parliament approved tighter investment rules.

The fund was already prevented from investing in companies that derive more than 30 per cent of revenue from coal, and now cannot invest in companies that mine more than 20 million tonnes of coal annually or generate more than 10 gigawatts of power from coal.

The fund holds stakes in commodities giant Glencore, as well as investments in Australian companies BHP, South32 and AGL Energy.

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund will also offload some stakes in oil and gas explorers and producers, but retain shares of integrated energy companies like Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil.

The fund was set up specifically to push petroleum revenues from the nation’s North Sea oil fields into welfare and other social spending.

It has grown to the point that oil and gas companies now represent just 5.9 per cent of its equity investments, with stakes in more than 9,000 companies worldwide.

The Government of Norway is also the majority shareholder in Equinor – the company looking to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight.

 

Contacts

Clr Peter Shinton (Chair) peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au 0268492000 or Greg Lamont (Executive Officer) 0407937636, info@mininrelatedcouncils.asn.au.

MERC Newsletter – May 2019

Introduction

Delegates, here is the May 2019 MERC Newsletter.This newsletter has a lot of important information in it for you to read, please circulate this to your fellow Councillors and senior staff, so they can appreciate and understand the excellent work the Association and you are doing on behalf of your Council and community, with regard to mining and energy related matters.

 

Update on the Voluntary Planning Agreement Steering Committee

Another meeting of the Steering Committee was held 2nd May 2019 to consider the position papers by NSWMC (on the implications of autonomous mining for VPAs) and MERC (to review Umwelt’s Worker Domicile Model and to, identify any impacts which are not included in that model which MERC considers should be the subject of financial contributions through VPAs, plus the methodologies for their calculation).

The meeting was realistic in that where there was general agreement that while neither organisation was likely to be able to mandate use of a particular methodology by their members, there was a reasonable prospect of the Committee identifying a mix of methodologies that could be used in combination to address the concerns of members. This could be recommended by both organisations to their respective members and would have some utility in streamlining future VPA negotiations. It was also highlighted that this approach may have greater utility for application to smaller, non-coal operations.

NSWMC members reiterated that they were open to such an approach, but that their membership would not agree to any mixed methodology that did not involve some proportion calculated via the Worker Domicile Model. NSWMC will also need to have a clear rationale to support further costs which are outside this model, but noted that a generalised, ‘black box’ figure on top of that calculated through the Worker Domicile Model could potentially be justified as a consideration to impacted communities if reasonable. Certainty and predictability of costs is a key concern of their members.

The Committee agreed to work together to develop a VPA framework agreement (including scope and calculation methodologies) for consideration at the next Committee meeting to be held on 23rd August 2019 in Sydney. Both parties agreed that the future of the Committee should be considered if no substantive progress was made at the next meeting.

On 10th May 2019 MERC members agreed that they would support such a mixed contributions model approach consisting of any of the following:

  • A model utilizing a % of Capital Expenditure and/or a cents per Cents per Production cost;
  • A combination of % Capital Expenditure and/or Cents per Production cost of 70% and a Worker Domicile Model of 30%;
  • A worker Domicile Model based upon a sliding scale which recognises the economic befit for the host Council;
  • Each Council has the opportunity to negotiate their own VPA models irrespective of the aforementioned models.

MERC is to submit a paper on the VPA framework agreement including the scope and methodologies for these mixed contributions models. As well, MERC is to develop a Statement in conjunction with the NSW Minerals Council and the VPA Steering Committee that outlined the foregoing.

Despite this, it was further agreed that if these methodologies are not agreed to or substantive progress can’t be made during the negotiations, then the Chair of the VPA Steering Committee is to be advised that negotiations will cease and MERC will withdraw from the Committee.

Next meeting is to be in Sydney on 23rd August 2019. Meanwhile, Glenn Wilcox (Life Member, Warren Shire Council) has provided his “Mining Calculator” to the VPA working party to trial as another option and comments will be provided to delegates about this model in due course.

 

Resources for Regions (R4R) versus a Royalties for Regions – Media Release, etc.

MERC will continue to canvass the new NSW Government for changes to the current Resources for Regions program to resemble a Royalties for Regions one. There is widespread support for changing the existing program to a Royalties for Region program with a set percentage being allocated to mining and energy affected Councils for infrastructure, social and economic impact addressing.

Phil Donato (MP for Orange and leader in the Legislative Assembly for the Shooters Fishers & Farmers  Party) and Roy Butler (MP for Barwon and from Shooters, Fishers & Farmers party met delegates on Friday 10th May 2019 at Forbes Services Memorial Club. Both indicated that their party would support such a review and a change to a Royalties for Regions program with a set % of royalties returned to Councils in mining affected regions to assist with the infrastructure, social and economic impacts.

Given the need for the government to have support for legislation changes from the minor parties, it is fortuitous that MERC has the support of the Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party who have requested a submission on the issue so they can pursue it in parliament as part of their “bias for the bush” campaign mantra and would like regular and open dailogue with MERC on this basis. Whilst not in the Coalition parties, hopefully they are able to use their position to create opportunities for the mining affected regions of NSW.

 

Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)

Given the changes to the Planning and Environment portfolios in Cabinet recently (Hon Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning & Public Places is back in charge of this very important portfolio, Don Harwin has been replaced by Hon Matt Kean, Minister for Energy & Environment), consequently, it is not known if RAF will be retained nor is it likely that a further meeting will be held within the next few months. If it is scrapped, this will mean that a lot of important relevant information that Cr Hasler regularly relayed to MERC, will not occur.

 

Next Meetings of Association for 2019

The next Executive Committee meeting will be on 8th August 2019 at 2pm and the Ordinary General Meeting next day on 9th August 2019 at 9am, both meetings will be held in the Club York second floor meeting rooms, 99 York St, Sydney, same as for the February meetings.

Mid Coast Council have now confirmed they will host the November meetings in Gloucester on 7/8th November 2019. The meeting cycle for 2020 will be determined at the Annual General Meeting. Dates will be confirmed by the Executive in due course in consultation with the host Councils, but by sticking with the pattern of second Thursday/Friday in the aforementioned months is what MERC is working on for your diaries.

 

Membership Campaign

The Association at its May meeting in 2018, adopted a Marketing Policy to ensure membership increases by targeting more renewable energy development affected LGA’s in NSW and to formalise and strengthen the membership campaign. If any delegates have any colleagues in Local Government that may be interested in being part of our voice, please contact the Executive Officer.

 

Speakers for next meetings of MERC

The Executive Officer has confirmed the following speakers for the meeting in Sydney 9th August 2019:

  • Felicity Greenway, DPE (PIE), Acting Executive Director of the Integrity & Ethics Unit to address delegates on the 19 recommendations of the Kaldas Review Report, which the DPE (PIE) have adopted all of them and progress with them;
  • Tony Corbett, Port of Newcastle, Trade & Business Development Manager, for an update on mineral movements out of the Port of Newcastle and future changes;
  • David Kittoes, Executive Director, Resource Assessments and Business System, DPIE on his role and on any changes proposed with planning assessments;
  • Dr Alex King or Kristina Erzikov & Jessica Rossell, DPIE, Resources Planning and Geosciences for an update on their review of monitoring mining processes in NSW.

MERC will be pursuing the following speakers for future meetings when congratulating them on their re election and ministerial appointments:

  • Hon Adam Marshall, Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW, National Party;
  • Hon Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning & Public Spaces, Liberal Party;
  • Hon Matt Kean, Minister for Energy & Environment, Liberal Party;
  • Hon Gladys Berijiklian, Premier, Liberal Party;
  • Hon John Barilaro, Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW, Investment & Trade

Other relevant Opposition party members and government senior officers will also be pursued for meetings as required when known.

 

Life Membership Updates – Mitchell, Connor and Cr Brady OAM

Life membership badges, plaques and certificates will be presented to Cr Lilliane Brady OAM and Col Mitchell at the August Ordinary meeting in Sydney with Chris Connor opting for Gloucester in November 2019.

 

Coal Seam Gas Policy

The amended Coal Seam Gas Policy was adopted with some minor changes. However, a Notice of Motion will be submitted to the August meeting by Cr Mark Hall, Lachlan Shire Council, proposing that further changes be included in relation to the double casing of bores. He will submit a paper on the arguments for it for delegates consideration. Thereafter a copy of the amended policy will be forwarded to delegates for their information and/or consideration.

 

Research Fellowship Update

Delegates decided to go with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), (Dr Alexey Voinov and Dr Juan Castilla-Rho) with Peter Dupen as the PhD student to undertake the PhD Research project on participatory modelling of social licensing pathways in view of it  being “shovel ready”. This still leaves MERC with the option of undertaking a similar project with the University of Wollongong (UoW) SMART unit on a different topic in due course.

In recent discussions with the PhD student, arrangements are being made to formalise the grant application and the development of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the UTS which will outline details on insurances, performance measures, exit strategies, roles, finances, etc. However discussions on the projects are yet to occur. The MERC working party will be involved in this and on how the project will work to benefit MERC members in due course. Peter Dupen will address delegates at the August meeting on progress with the project.

NSW Minerals Council CEO has been approached about being part of this PhD project as a sponsor and the CEO requested a submission which has been forwarded to him. It may not lead to anything given our respective positions with the VPA, but worth a shot.

 

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues

“Australian mining sector to flourish in a little over a decade”   Richard Szabo, 10th May 2019, Australian Mining Review writes “ In a little over a decade from now, the Australian mining sector will flourish in a different playing field, a new official document has revealed.

Asia is predicted to produce more than half the world’s economic output, consume 40 per cent of its energy and be home to a middle class of almost 3.5 billion people by the year 2030. If the Australian mining sector can maintain its global share of commodity production, at least 24,000 new direct mining jobs could be created, according to the Federal Government’s National Resources Statement.

The first such statement released in over 20 years outlines how regulatory authorities can effectively attract investment and develop new resources and markets. The strategy also focuses on creating well-paid and secure jobs, investing in new technology to improve environmental outcomes and ensuring local communities receive any flow-on benefits of mining.

In addition to this, the government will continue supporting development of new resource basins, through an existing memorandum of understanding with the Northern Territory on the development of the Beetaloo Basin, and also invest in seismic and aero-magnetic surveys to help discover the next major mineral find through the $100 million Exploring for the Future program.

A new critical minerals work program will separately be established to boost exploration and develop a data strategy to de-risk investment decisions. Funding applications for vital minerals projects will also be prioritised under the $20 million Round 7 of the Cooperative Research Centres Project.

The government believes there is a bright future ahead for the Australian mining sector due to rapid economic growth across the Asia Pacific region.

“Our resources sector makes up 8 per cent of our economy and exports are predicted to reach a record $250 billion in 2018–19. It also employs around 1.1 million people directly and indirectly, and is the largest employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and Senator Matt Canavan said in a public statement. “Our work starts now … taking action now means a stronger and more robust resources sector into the future. This National Resources Statement will help keep us at the top of our game and pave the way for decades of prosperity for all Australians.”

The statement was released in response to recommendations from the Resources 2030 Taskforce commissioned by the government in 2018.

“Caterpillar secures Koodaideri self – driving trucks”   Mining Editor, May 2019, Australian Mining Review  “Rio Tinto’s Koodaideri iron ore mine in Western Australia will utilise a fleet of 20 autonomous Caterpillar self-  driving trucks (793F mining haul trucks) in addition to four autonomous blast drills to improve safety and productivity.

In a media release today, Rio Tinto confirmed a deal to purchase the self-  driving trucks and other autonomous mining equipment had been inked. Caterpillar will also supply a range of other mining equipment for the Koodaideri operation.

“Beyond the autonomous fleet, Caterpillar will also provide loaders, dozers, graders, water carts and diggers for the operation which will be Rio Tinto’s first Pilbara mine to be primarily operated using Caterpillar machinery,” Rio said.

Rio Tinto has previously stated that the first production roles are expected to commence in 2021 and the Koodaideri operations would create over 2000 jobs during construction and 600 permanent roles. Caterpillar self – driving trucks will now feature as core mine haulage.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury previously said that the Koodaideri project would be a significant leap forward for the global mining industry and the company. “We’ve been building mines in the Pilbara for over 50 years, and, subject to final approvals, Koodaideri will incorporate all of that knowledge to enable us to build the smartest, safest and most efficient mine we’ve ever constructed,” Salisbury said. Rio Tinto plans in place to increase its autonomous haulage fleet to more than 140 by the end of 2019.

“CO2 better hydraulic fracking fluid than H20”  Industrial Careers, 30th May 2019. Refer www.industrialcareers.com.au. “Chinese scientists say CO2 may make a better hydraulic fracturing fluid than water. The finding could help pave the way for a more eco-friendly form of fracking that would double as a mechanism for storing captured atmospheric CO2.

In normal fracking operations, fluid (usually water mixed with sand, foaming agents, biocides, and other chemicals) is injected into rock, fracturing it to release the resources within. Of the approximately 7-15 million litres of fluid injected, 30 to 50 per cent, remains in the rock formation after extraction ends.

Its high water consumption, environmental risks, and frequent production issues have led to concerns about fracking among both industry experts and environmental advocates.

“Non-aqueous fracturing could be a potential solution to circumvent these issues,” says Professor Nannan Sun, a researcher in the Shanghai Advanced Research Institute at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “We chose CO2 fracturing from a range of options because the process includes multiple benefits. However, we were still lacking a fundamental understanding of the technology, which is greatly important for its further development and deployment.”

Benefits of CO2 fracturing include eliminating the need for a hefty water supply (which would make fracking viable in arid locations), reducing the risk of damage to reservoirs (as often happens when aqueous solutions create blockages in the rock formation), and providing an underground repository for captured CO2.

“We demonstrated that CO2 has higher mobility than water, and, therefore, the injection pressure can be better delivered into the natural porosity of the formation,” Prof Sun says. “This changes the mechanism by which the fractures are created, generating more complex fracture networks that result in more efficient shale gas production.”

While the researchers believe this hydraulic fracturing technology will be scalable, its large-scale development is currently limited by CO2 availability. The cost of CO2 captured from emission sources is still prohibitively expensive to make CO2 an industry-wide fracking fluid replacement.

The team also notes that once CO2 has been injected into the fracture, it acquires a low viscosity that inhibits it from effectively transporting sand to the fractures. Since the sand is intended to prop open the fractures while shale gas is harvested, it is critical that scientists learn to improve the fluid’s viscosity. The team is not yet sure how to do so while keeping costs low and minimizing the environmental footprint.

SMH 26 Nov 2018:Rio Tinto warns climate inaction poses ‘greatest long-term threat’ 9From Warwick Giblin) Nic Tascano writes. “The new chairman of global mining giant Rio Tinto has described inaction on climate change as “perhaps the greatest long-term threat” facing the business and promised it would be part of the solution rather than the problem.

Speaking at an investor meeting on Monday, Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson said society – particularly Millennials – were demanding higher standards from the companies they worked for and invested their money in. He signalled a renewed emphasis from Rio Tinto’s board on environmental, social and governance issues, and on continuing to reshape its portfolio for the transition to a “low-carbon economy”. “Perhaps the greatest long-term threat to Rio Tinto is if business, investors, consumers and especially governments, collectively fail to take action on climate change,” he said.

Rio Tinto is among a number of major mining and resources companies to escalate warnings against political inaction on global warming and call for a price on carbon, despite the Morrison government rejecting the need to overhaul climate policies before the next federal election.

Mr Thompson said the mining industry recognised that it had a profound impact on wider society, both positive and negative. It creates jobs, tax revenue, economic prosperity for remote regions, and the raw materials that are “essential for human progress”, he said.

But it also has negative environmental and social impacts, including land disturbance, significant water consumption and climate change. Sustainability, social responsibility and other so-called ESG (environmental, social, governance) issues are growing focus areas for mining companies in Australia and worldwide in the face of heightened scrutiny from investors and a spate of shareholder resolutions targeting heavy emitters.

The International Council on Mining and Metals told a mining conference in Melbourne earlier last month that there had been a “convergence” of the environmental and social demands of communities in which miners operated and the demands of institutional shareholders.

Mr Thompson said the Rio Tinto board considered investment in ESG issues to be a “source of differentiation”. He said the company’s portfolio was in “very, very good shape” as climate change had “been integrated into our strategic planning for nearly two decades”.

“Many of the global mega trends that we see today do indeed support demand for our products – for example, urbanisation and the growth of the middle class. But others clearly pose a major threat,” he said.

“I hope that the centrality of ESG issues to many of our board discussions is already evident, as we continue to reshape our portfolio for the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

“Salt water tomato farm sells”  ABC News, courtesy Steve Loane:

A world-leading agriculture business that uses renewable energy to grow tomatoes has been sold in South Australia, but the final price is a closely-guarded secret.

Agriculture business Sundrop Farms has been sold to trans-Tasman infrastructure investment firm, Morrison and Co. for an undisclosed amount. The company runs a world-first facility in Port Augusta that uses thousands of mirrors to capture sunlight, as well as seawater, which it desalinates, to grow tomatoes. Morrison and Co., which owns other renewable energy investments, said the facility would be the fund’s top priority over pilot plants in Tennessee and Portugal.

After a year-long process the company has bought by trans-Tasman infrastructure investment firm, Morrison and Co. for an undisclosed amount. Sundrop Farms opened the only facility of its kind in the world at Port Augusta in South Australia in 2016, and uses sunlight and seawater to grow tomatoes.

The facility uses more than 23,000 mirrors to capture sunlight and direct it to a central receiver at the top of a 127-metre “power” tower. All the water used for irrigating the crops is piped from the Spencer Gulf and converted into fresh water using a thermal desalination unit.

At its peak it produces 39 megawatts of thermal energy, which is used for electricity, heating and making water. The commercial facility cost about $200 million to build, with private equity firm Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts (KKR) investing $100 million.

The facility produces about 17,000 tonnes of truss tomatoes a year and holds a 10-year supply contract with Coles Australia. The company’s pilot plants in Tennessee and Portugal were sold prior to the Morrison and Co. deal.

“Cumulative impact grounds an increasing challenge for proponents of large-scale wind farms in NSW”   By Claire Smith, Emma Whitney and Jessica Lighton, Clayton Utz

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s decision highlights the increasing significance of a proposed project’s impact to visual amenity, particularly its cumulative visual impact. As renewable projects increase, so do planning objections, with visual and noise amenity as the two most commonly cited impacts raised by objectors. The NSW Wind Energy Guideline (2016) acknowledges that visual impact is an assessment criterion particularly relevant to wind energy developments, noting that the height, scale and mechanical character of wind turbines creates an unavoidable level of visibility and contrast with the natural environments in which they are situated. Further, multiple wind energy projects in close proximity can cause cumulative impacts on a particular landscape and people’s enjoyment.

Under the Framework, consent authorities must consider the acceptability of visual impacts on landscape values and the amenity of landholders and communities, as well as the adequacy of measures in development proposals to avoid, reduce or manage these impacts. Those impacts are assessed in accordance with the NSW Wind Energy: Visual Assessment Bulletin (2016) which covers appropriate site-selection and environmental assessment.

How all of this is playing out in practice is becoming clearer, with cumulative impacts playing a major role in the NSW Government’s recommendation that a large-scale wind farm in the Southern Highlands be refused on the grounds that the location was fundamentally not suitable because of the cumulative visual and landscape impacts of multiple wind turbines in the locality. 

 

The cumulative impacts of another wind farm in Crookwell

Crookwell, a town in the Southern Highlands, and its surrounds are home to five wind farms, which between them have 195 turbines. Under the Crookwell 3 wind farm proposal, 23 turbines up to 157 metres in height, with a capacity of up to 96MW, would be constructed around five km from the town in two clusters either side of the existing 32-turbine Crookwell 2 Wind Farm which is operated by the same proponent, Crookwell Development Pty Ltd (CDPL) (a subsidiary of Global Power Generation Pty Ltd). Seventeen of the proposed 23 turbines would be less than 2.1 km from residences, with some as close as 1.1 km.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment recommended that the State significant development application for the Project be refused because of its significant cumulative visual impacts on the surrounding landscape and residents.

The application has now be referred to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) for final determination – the second time the Project has been sent to the IPC. In 2015, the Department sent an earlier version of the Project (which proposed 29 turbines) to the IPC, recommending that approval be granted. However, the IPC expressed concerns about the Project and sent it back to the Department. This triggered CDPL to amend the proposal (including reducing the number of turbines to 23) which it resubmitted to the Department for assessment. 

Despite this reduction in number the Department found the amended Project unacceptable because: the Project would result in unacceptable direct and cumulative visual impacts on residences, public viewpoints and the surrounding landscape; the Project would result in unacceptable impacts on the landscape character and significant landscape features; the majority of submissions from residences in the local area object to the Project and Upper Lachlan Shire Council maintains residual concerns about the impacts of the Project; the Project is not consistent with the current land use “environmental management” zoning provisions; and the Project is not in the public interest.

In assessing the public interest, the Department concluded the potential impacts of the proposed wind farm outweigh its predicted benefits. While the Department acknowledged the amendments made to the proposal to reduce impacts, and that CDPL had reached an agreement with multiple landowners, it considered the local landscape currently has a limited capacity to absorb further changes from wind farm development, and the specific location and scale of the project would result in material impacts on local landscape values and features.

 

Handling the visual impacts of future wind farm proposals

This is not the first time the Department has rejected a large-scale wind farm proposal. The proposed Jupiter Wind Farm located in Tarago in the Southern Tablelands was recommended for refusal by the Department twice (in October 2015 and February 2018) on grounds that the proposal would have unacceptable visual impacts on the surrounding landscape. The October 2015 refusal also cited a failure by the proponents to adequately address the noise impacts and properly consult with the local community. The Jupiter project originally included 100 turbines with a capacity of up to 350MW but was decreased to 54 turbines following initial discussions with the Department. In its reasons for refusal, the Department stated that the proposal was inconsistent with local land use “environmental management” zoning provisions and the site was fundamentally unsuitable for the project. The proposal was referred to the IPC for determination following the Department’s February 2018 recommendation but the application was withdrawn in March 2018.

There are clear similarities between both the proposed Jupiter and Crookwell 3 wind farms as well as the reasons cited by the Department for its refusal in each case despite the fact the Crookwell 3 project is approximately half the scale of the revised Jupiter proposal. These similarities indicate impacts on visual amenity, especially when combined with community resistance and cumulative impacts of existing project’s, will continue to feature more prominently within the Department’s assessment of any proposed wind farm project.

The Department’s decision highlights the increasing significance placed on the impact to visual amenity by a proposed project, particularly in locations with existing major wind farm projects, where the cumulative visual impact may become a prominent consideration. Proponents should therefore give due consideration to strategies or designs to reduce the impact of a proposed project on the visual amenity of the surrounding landscape, as well as clearly and effectively consulting with the local community to address concerns. (16/5/19)

 

Contacts

Clr Peter Shinton (Chair) peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au 0268492000 or Greg Lamont (Executive Officer) 0407937636, info@mininrelatedcouncils.asn.au.

 

MERC Newsletter – April 2019

Introduction

Delegates, here is the April 2019 MERC Newsletter (pre Federal Election issue). This newsletter has a lot of important information in it for you to read, please circulate this to your fellow Councillors and senior staff, so they can appreciate and understand the excellent work the Association and you are doing on behalf of your Council and community, with regard to mining and energy related matters.

 

Update on the Voluntary Planning Agreement Steering Committee

Another meeting of the Steering Committee was held 2nd May 2019 to consider the position papers by NSWMC (on the implications of autonomous mining for VPAs) and MERC (to review Umwelt’s Worker Domicile Model and to, identify any impacts which are not included in that model which MERC considers should be the subject of financial contributions through VPAs, plus the methodologies for their calculation).

The meeting was realistic in that where there was general agreement that while neither organisation was likely to be able to mandate use of a particular methodology by their members, there was a reasonable prospect of the Committee identifying a mix of methodologies that could be used in combination to address the concerns of members. This could be recommended by both organisations to their respective members and would have some utility in streamlining future VPA negotiations. It was also highlighted that this approach may have greater utility for application to smaller, non-coal operations.

NSWMC members reiterated that they were open to such an approach, but that their membership would not agree to any mixed methodology that did not involve some proportion calculated via the Worker Domicile Model. NSWMC will also need to have a clear rationale to support further costs which are outside this model, but noted that a generalised, ‘black box’ figure on top of that calculated through the Worker Domicile Model could potentially be justified as a consideration to impacted communities if reasonable. Certainty and predictability of costs is a key concern of their members.

MERC members agreed that they would likely support such an approach subject to the endorsement by members at the meeting on 10th May 2019 with a background report being provided to assist them with the decision. Verification processes for various VPA models were briefly discussed, and Committee members agreed that this should be considered and potentially written into a standardised agreement.

The Committee agreed to work together to develop a VPA framework agreement (including scope and calculation methodologies) for consideration at the next Committee meeting to be held on 23rd August 2019 in Sydney. Both parties agreed that the future of the Committee should be considered if no substantive progress was made at the next meeting.

 

Resources for Regions (R4R) versus a Royalties for Regions – Media Release, etc.

MERC will continue to canvass the new NSW Government for changes to the current Resources for Regions program to resemble a Royalties for Regions one. There is widespread support for changing the existing program to a Royalties for Region program with a set percentage being allocated to mining and energy affected Councils for infrastructure, social and economic impact addressing.

The Mayor of Singleton Council and Deputy Chair of MERC, Cr Sue Moore indicated that the Deputy Premier, Hon John Barilaro, met with her Council recently and indciated that he is going to review the current Resources for Regions Program and this will mean the consideration of doing away with the BCR > 1 (Cost Benefit Ratio greater than one as a benefit for the State) which involves legislation change and to look at the contribution levels. Watch this space.

MERC has Phil Donato (MP for Orange and leader in the Legislative Assembly for the Shooters Fishers & Farmers  Party) and Roy Butler (MP for Barwon and from Shooters, Fishers & Farmers party attending our meetin on Friday 10th May 2019 at Forbes Services Memorial Club to talk about Respources for Region program being changed and other matters. The State Director of the Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party Filip Despotoski emailed on 31st January 2019 to the Executive Officer the following statement:

“thanks for reaching out to Senada from our Parliamentary Office regarding

            support for Royalties for Regions policy. We would support such a policy”.

Given the need for the government to have support for legislation changes from the minor parties, it is fortuitous that we have Phil and Roy agree to meet delegates on 10th May 2019, to ensure this program format is changed to a Royalties for Regions set % provided direct to the LGA’s to utilsie or similar..

 

Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)

Given the changes to the Planning and Environment portfolios in Cabinet recently (Hon Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning & Public Places is back in charge of this very important portfolio, Don Harwin has been replaced by Hon Matt Kean, Minister for Energy & Environment), consequently, it is not known if RAF will be retained nor is it likely that a further meeting will be held within the next few months. If it is scrapped, this will mean that a lot of important relevant information that Cr Hasler regularly relayed to MERC, will not occur.

 

Next Meetings of Association for 2019

The next Executive Committee meeting will be on 9th May 2019 and the Ordinary General Meeting next day on 10th February 2019, both meetings starting at 9am and held in the Forbes Memorial Services Club.

The Forbes Shire Council Events Coordinator Jolene has organised for delegates and partners arriving early on 9th May 2019 to participate in a tour departing the Forbes Memorial Services Club at 1pm of the multi stock Central West Livestock Exchange, to visit the VAST Solar farm then for a tour of the Amazing Sculpture then back to the Club by 4.30ish. The Network dinner that evening will be held in the Forbes Sport & Recreation Club Chinese Restaurant. Confirmation of numbers are required if not already advised the Executive Officer.

The demand for accommodation for motels in the Forbes CBD will be at a premium on 10th May 2019 due to the Van Fest Music event in town that night, so delegates need to contact them and book as soon as possible. Phone numbers for the motels in the CBD provided by Jolene are as follows:

Plainsman Motel – 6852 2466; Forbes Victoria Inn – 6851 2233; Econolodge Ben Hall Motor Inn – 6851 2345 and Country Mile Motor Inn – 6852 4099. There are other motel/ hotel  options available.

The August meetings are to be held in Sydney at Club York, Bass rooms on 8/9th August 2019 (same as February meeting for Executive Committee and Ordinary meetings).Mid Coast Council have now confirmed they will host the November meetings in Gloucester with 7/8th November 2019 for Gloucester. Dates will be confirmed by the Executive in due course, but by sticking with the pattern of second Thursday/Friday in the aforementioned months is what we are working on for your diaries.

 

Membership Campaign

Awaiting Coonamble Shire to respond. They have been invited to attend the meeting in Forbes as observers. The Association at its May meeting in 2018, adopted a Marketing Policy to ensure membership increases by targeting more renewable energy development affected LGA’s in NSW and to formalise and stregthen the membership campaign. If any delegates have any colleagues in Local Government that may be interested in being part of our voice, please contact the Executive Officer.

 

Speakers for next meetings of MERC

The Executive Officer has confirmed the following speakers fro the meeting in Sydney 8/9th August:

  • Felicity Greenway, DPE (PIE), Acting Executive Director of the Integrity & Ethics Unit to address delegates on the 19 recommendations of the Kaldas Review Report, which the DPE (PIE) have adopted all of them and progress with them;
  • Tony Corbett, Port of Newcastle, Trade & Business Development Manager, for an update on mineral movements out of the Port and future changes.

MERC will be pursuing the following speakers for future meetings

  • Hon Adam Marshall, Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW, National Party;
  • Hon Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning & Public Spaces, Liberal Party;
  • Hon Matt Kean, Minister for Energy & Environment, Liberal Party;
  • Hon Gladys Berijiklian, Premier, Liberal Party;
  • Hon John Barilaro, Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW, Investment & Trade

Other relevant Opposition party members and government senior officers will also be pursued for meetings as required.

 

Life Membership Updates – Mitchell, Martin, Connor and Brady

  • John Martin – The Chair and Executive Officer attended the Singleton Council meeting on 15th April 2019 and presented the Life membership Award Cr John Martin OAM. See article in this newsletter;
  • Cr Lilliane Brady OAM – Cr Brady OAM has submitted a letter of thanks to the Executive officer and requested its contents be circulated to delegates. The letter reads “I wish to thank you and each member of the Association for this prestigious honour. I am so grateful to receive a Lifetime Membership to the Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils (NSW) and I look forward to seeing you all at the next meeting. With all my heart, thank you. Lilliane Brady OAM, Mayor Cobar Shire Council”. A presentation will be made to Lilliane at the May meeting in Forbes;
  • Col Mitchell – Is elated with the award and is endeavouring to attend the MERC meeting in Sydney on 9th August 2019 to receive his award;
  • Chris Connor – Is equally honoured to receive the Life Membership and is hoping to attend the meeting in Gloucester in November 2019 to receive his Award.

 

Research Fellowship Update

On 8th February 2019 at the Ordinary General Meeting, Dr Juan Castilla Rho, University of Wollongong, Research Fellow Particpatory Modelling, briefed delegates on the participatory modelling research proposal with the three options, outputs and outcomes over 2-5 years with funding and MERC contributions.

The outputs will be participatory modelling workshops; part of a management flight simulator; in journal papers; presentation at International conferences; published in news and media outlets. The outcomes are expected to be the piloting of participatory modelling social licence pathways; facilitate the assessment of mining and energy proposals; project has the potential to be included in guidelines, best practice and ultimately planning regulation.

Since that time, Juan has found a PhD student for the project and the student has presented a paper to MERC delegates on how the project would work and he has also fine-tuned the timeframe and costings for the project. The details of them are included in the Business paper for the Ordinary General meeting to be held on 10th May 2019 to consider the project.

However, Juan has now left the University of Wollongong and moved to the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to lecture in participatory modelling social licence pathways for them, working with an international expert in Alexey Voinov (Russian) who resides in Australia and the PhD student wants to go with him to UTS The University of Wollongong SMART team still wishes to be involved in the project, with MERC.

Delegates will need to consider all of the issues outlined in the Business Paper and to determine if MERC is to proceed with the project or not, and if so in what format and with which University and PhD student, at the 10th May meeting in Forbes.

 

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues

Environment gets another bite of the PIE in mega – agency  Jacob Saulwick and Peter Hannam write in the SMH 4-5 May 2019 weekend edition, that NSW will have an ‘environment’ department once more after the word was added to the mega – agency now called Planning, Industry and Environment (PIE). Jim Betts (ex Infrastructure NSW) will be the boss of the department that will cover the environment, housing, regional development, Aboriginal affairs, science, industry, planning, local government and government property.

Mr Betts said “Our cluster has been created by the Premier to deal with some of the most contentious issues of our era. We all want NSW to be prosperous, liveable, environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive, but in pursuit of these goals there are sometimes difficult trade – offs to be made.”

In his letter to staff, Mr Betts stressed a commitment to tackle climate change and said the Environmnet Protection Authority (EPA) would remain independent. He also said “ We won’t waste time on pointless bureaucracy. We will be decisive, bold and constantly move forward with the government’s agenda”

Life membership honour for long-serving Singleton Councillor for service to mining-related councils of NSW Singleton Council released the following media release dated 15th April 2019, under this title:

Former mayor of Singleton and long-time sitting councillor John Martin’s decades of service to the Association of Mining and Energy Related Councils of NSW has been recognised with Life Membership awarded at tonight’s ordinary council meeting. Association of Mining and Energy Related Councils of NSW Chairman Cr Peter Shinton and Executive Officer Greg Lamont were at the meeting to make the presentation.

The Association represents a diverse number of NSW councils with an interest in mining, energy and the developing coal seam gas (CSG) industries.  Cr Martin was informally involved in the Association stemming back to 1993 and served as a delegate between 2008 and 2016 including as a member of the executive committee, helping to write the guidelines that would pave the way for voluntary planning agreements.

He said he was particularly proud that Singleton and Muswellbrook Councils were the first to receive Royalties for Regions funding, although “it hadn’t happened as much as he’d like since then. The Association is an important organisation because it is a voice of local government on mining and now energy to our government departments about matters such as Resources for Regions, and the improvements needed for industries so far as councils are concerned,” Cr Martin said.

“It gives council a voice to the government on mining and energy-related issues as they directly relate to the people in our community.  For me, the presentation and life membership means that it’s for our council, because I didn’t do any of this work for myself – I did it on behalf of our council. We’ve made a lot of forceful representations over the years and had a few successes, and a few that didn’t get up too well.”

In presenting the award, Cr Shinton said he acknowledged Cr Martin’s outstanding contribution to the Association, describing him as an “absolute gentleman, full of credible information. The life membership honour was in recognition of John’s efforts in making a significant contribution to the success of the Association as the peak body in NSW, empowering and advocating on behalf of councils of NSW that are impacted by mining and energy developers,” he said.

“It gives me great pleasure to bestow this badge, certificate and plaque in the recognition John deserves from his peers, as a distinguished member of our Association.”

 Rushed new Queensland solar rules to drive up costs, and lead to industry slow-down Clean Energy Council , 2nd May 2019 article highlights some solar issues that could cause ructions in NSW as follows:.

New rules rushed through by the Queensland Government are likely to hit the commercial solar sector hard when they come into effect in less than two weeks, and will make it harder for the state to meet its own renewable energy target, the Clean Energy Council said today. Anna Freeman, the Clean Energy Council’s Director of Energy Generation, said the new regulations for solar meant that electricians had to be used for work such as carrying unplugged solar panels or bolting them to a rail.

“This is like having to call in an electrician to hang a TV on a bracket on your wall. It’s absurd. It would be virtually impossible to electrocute yourself by handling an unconnected panel. You’re at greater risk from plugging in a toaster at home,” Ms Freeman said.     

“The changes will drive up the cost of building both large solar farms and commercial solar systems installed in places like shopping centres, schools, swimming pools and factories. Estimates from solar businesses are that the cost of building commercial projects will increase by 10 to 20 per cent, delaying the payback period for businesses and schools, and making many projects unviable.

“Combined with the effect on large-scale solar farms, these changes will slow the installation of solar across the state and make it more costly for businesses to control their energy costs. Not even an electrical apprentice will be able to handle and attach an unconnected solar panel, so the opportunities for apprentices to work in the new solar industry are going to be slashed. At the very time in which the Federal Labor Party announces its commitment to boost apprenticeships in renewable energy, the Queensland Government continues to persist with a regulation that will kill off many clean energy apprenticeships.

“From 13 May, those businesses which already have projects under construction are going to have to wear this extra cost, without the ability to pass this on to their customers. This means many small- to medium-sized businesses will be out of pocket,” she said.

Ms Freeman said that the sudden regulatory change had not been justified, with the government not able to demonstrate a single safety incident on a solar farm relating to the mounting and fixing of solar panels. “To our knowledge, no other jurisdiction on the planet has such extreme and unnecessary regulation in place,” she said.

 “We are asking the government to immediately delay this new regulation before people start losing their jobs, so that proper consultation can take place with the solar industry. “If the Palaszczuk Government is willing to return to the table, we are confident that we can work co-operatively together with all parties to find a way forward that does not destroy jobs and investment.”  


New gas terminal for Port Kembla
From the NSW Government’s NSW News 3rd May is the following article: A new gas terminal at Port Kembla will create local jobs, help to bring down household gas bills and achieve energy security into the future.

The NSW Government has given planning approval for Australian Industrial Energy to construct the gas terminal at Port Kembla. The new terminal will accommodate Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) carrier ships, a floating LNG handling facility, wharf infrastructure and a pipeline to connect to the existing NSW east coast gas network nearby.

Once operational, the terminal could supply 70 per cent of the state’s annual gas demand and help to ease the cost of energy bills for the 33,000 businesses and a million households in NSW that depend on natural gas.  With the creation of 150 jobs during construction and up to 50 ongoing roles once operational, the terminal is also a major boost for the economy.  

Before approving the terminal, the NSW Government assessed the environmental, social and economic impacts identified by community, government and independent stakeholders.

Planning approval includes conditions to:

  • manage impacts during the construction of the import terminal, including excavation and dredging activities in Port Kembla harbour and management of contaminated materials and acid sulphate soils
  • manage hazards and risks associated with the operation of the LNG import facility and gas pipeline
  • regulate and monitor air and water discharges from the project during construction and operations.

Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean said the Port Kembla gas terminal will be a game-changer for improving energy security and helping to ease energy costs. “It could support gas-fired electricity generation in NSW and help make sure we have reliable electricity.”

 

Uranium mine slides through. Industrial Careers, 29th April 2019 article states:

The Coalition appears to have signed off on a controversial uranium mine one day before calling the federal election, and did not announce it until the day before Anzac Day. The Yeelirrie Uranium mine in Western Australia is embroiled in a case in WA’s Supreme Court brought by members of the Tjiwarl traditional owners.

The former Liberal Barnett government controversially approved the mine in 2017, despite the state’s EPA advising it not be approved. Now, Environment Minister Melissa Price has announced the federal approval, which she says is subject to 32 strict conditions to avoid and mitigate potential environmental impacts.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s Dave Sweeney says the timing is suspicious. “We need decisions that are based on evidence and the national interest, not a company’s interest or not a particular senator’s or a particular government’s interest,” he said. “This reeks of political interference, rather than a legal consideration or due process.”

More information is available here.

Contacts

Clr Peter Shinton (Chair) peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au 0268492000 or Greg Lamont (Executive Officer) 0407937636, info@mininrelatedcouncils.asn.au.

 

MERC Newsletter- March 2019

Introduction

Delegates, here is the March 2019 MERC Newsletter (Post state election edition). This newsletter has a lot of important information in it for you to read, please circulate this to your fellow Councillors and senior staff, so they can appreciate and understand the excellent work the Association and you are doing on behalf of your Council and community, with regard to mining and energy related matters.

Update on the Voluntary Planning Agreement Steering Committee

The next meeting of the Steering Committee has been set down for 2nd May 2019 to consider the position papers by NSWMC (on the implications of autonomous mining for VPAs) and MERC (to review Umwelt’s Worker Domicile Model, identify any impacts which are not included in that model which MERC considers should be the subject of financial contributions through VPAs, plus the methodologies for their calculation). The papers are to be distributed to parties before the next meeting.

MERC has engaged Oz Environmental to assist with this position paper, as they were part of the original working party and have done a lot of work on this already for MERC. The draft paper is due to be provided to the working party for its comments by 10th April 2019. The MERC VPA Steering Committee will seek delegates input in due course before the meeting on 2nd May 2019.

The parties are aiming to have an agreed position by 31/12/2019, hopefully changes within the new Department of Planning & Public Spaces (with Minister Stokes taking back over Planning) don’t interfere, given the new Cabinet the Premier has just announced. I have copied these in the Newsletter as information, given the importance of them to MERC.

Resources for Regions (R4R) versus a Royalties for Regions – Media Release, etc.

The MERC Executive Committee agreed at its meeting on 7th February 2019, that a media release be prepared and forwarded to outlets throughout NSW to obtain as much coverage about the failure of the current Resources for Regions program to provide infrastructure for regions affected by mining related activities and the need for it to be replaced with a Royalties for Regions program. This approach is supported by Labor, the Shooters, Fishers & Farmers at State level and Federally former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce (Nats).

The media release was printed in the Country Leader (that is included in the Fairfax papers distributed throughout rural NSW) albeit diminished in what was provided to the Northern Daily Leader journalist Jamieson Murphy, nevertheless, the message was clear that the current Resources for Regions programs were not working for rural NSW infrastructure and the opportunities were lost for some LGA’s in view of the tough criteria.

Here is what was printed in the Country Leader on 11th March 2019 headlined “Councils call for fair share” and written by Jamieson Murphy who said this – “‘ Mining Councils across the region have hit out at the state government, saying they wear the cost of supporting the industry without getting a fair return. Some of the royalties the NSW government reaps from mining go towards the Resources for Regions program, a pool of money that Councils with mining activity in their boundaries potentially use to help fund various projects. However, the 22 members of the Mining & Energy Related Councils (MERC) NSW say the program is ineffective and unfair.

To apply for the Resources for Regions’ funding, Councils must be prepared to fork out a half of the development’s total cost, which has since been dropped to 25 per cent when not enough Councils could afford it. Project must also be at least $1million and have a cost – benefit ratio that shows the development will benefit the NSW government – not the Council.

MERC Chair Peter Shinton said “The funding program needed to be overhauled. We have not recived a fair proportion of the royalties the mining companies have paid into consolidated revenue coffers of the government” Cr Shinton said. “The intention of the royalties levy on the miners, is that funds are supposed to be returned to the regions from where they were levied, in part, to assist with addressing our infrastructure shortcomings and with the social and economic impacts. This has been occurring since this Coalition government has been in power”

Labor Shadow Resources Minister, Adam Searle said “his party would develop a new Resources for Regions Model. We will ensure that mining communities have a greater say in the distribution of funds” he said”.

Following the Executive Officer’s approach to NSW Infrastructure enquiring about where the announcement with the Resources for Regions Round 6 grants were up to (on behalf of a request from the Mayor of a member Council who had been informed by the government that they were successful with grants but the government makes the announcement. This announcement did not occur before the caretaker period. A senior staff member from the Premier and Cabinet’s Department responded and indicated that the elected government made the decision not to announce the grants prior to the election, despite staff readiness.

However, some details were released informally, in the caretaker period up to the elections by the sitting members for Heathcote and Upper Hunter and for the Dubbo electorate from the same party, on the grants Councils in their areas were to receive, irrespective.

The senior bureaucrat from the Premier and Cabinet’s Department said the current Resources for Regions program wasn’t meeting its objectives which was a concern and the staff were going to review it, plus seek input from MERC and the NSW Minerals Council and submit the new program to the incoming government, to ensure a better deal for those Councils and communities affected by mining occurs.

There is widespread support for changing the existing program. The following email dated 31st January 2019, was received from the State Director, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party indicating their support for a “Royalties for Regions” approach to be considered in due course:  “Thanks for reaching out to Senada from our Parliamentary Office regarding support for Royalities for Regions policy. We would support such a policy…… Filip Despotoski, State Director – Shooters Fishers and Farmers”

Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)

Clr Hasler (MERC delegate to RAF) has reported with the election on 23rd March 2019, it is not likely that a further meeting will be held until several months after the elections. The government has now been elected and has introduced portfolio changes that could affect the future of RAF.

New NSW Government Ministry

Announced by the Premier, Hon Gladys Berijiklian on 1st April 2019 is the new NSW Government  Ministry and those Ministers that are on particular “regional” interest areas for   MERC are:-

  • HON Gladys Berijiklian, Premier;
  • Hon John Barilaro, Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW, Industry & Trade;
  • Hon Dominic Perrottet, Treasurer;
  • Hon Paul Toole, Minister for Regional Transport and Roads;
  • Hon Andrew Constance, Minister for Transport and Roads;
  • Hon Robert Stokes, Minister for Planning & Public Spaces;
  • Hon Matthew Kean, Minister for Energy & Environment;
  • Hon Adam Marshall, Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW; and
  • Hon Shelley Hancock, Minister for Local Government.

What is of note with these appointments is the retention of John Barilaro with the Regional NSW portfolio and the creation of a Regional Transport and Roads portfolio under Minister Toole, MP for Bathurst, ex mayor of Bathurst and Evans Councils plus also having a cluster Minister for Transport & Roads under Minister Andrew Constance no doubt to oversee the Regional Transport & Roads. Portfolio of Minister Toole

The appointments have also split the old Planning and Environment portfolio to create Planning & Public Spaces and moved Environment in with Energy under a new Minister for the Energy & Environment portfolio. There are a few ex Mayors and Councillors among the above with Adam Marshall, ex Mayor Gunnedah Shire Council (MERC member) and Shelley Hancock a long term Councillor with Shoalhaven City Council.

All of the above should translate into a better understanding of regional local council needs for mining and energy related matters and provides an opportunity for MERC to pursue.

Add the new Shooters, Fishers & Farmers party members for Barwon (Roy Butler) and Murray (Helen Dalton), MERC has some new in experienced politicians to acquaint them with our strategic plan objectives and interests. Adam Marshall, Minister for Agriculture & Western NSW, MP Northern Tablelands has agreed already to attend a future meeting of MERC to meet delegates and talk about regional issues as the Western NSW Minister, dates and when to be confirmed. Roy Butler has been approached as the new Member for Barwon from the Shooters, Fishers & Farmers party to attend the Forbes meeting on 10th May 2019 to discuss Royalties for Regions in particular and mining and energy related matters afecting members fo MERC.

Next Meetings of Association for 2019

The next Executive Committee meeting will be on 9th May 2019 and the Ordinary General Meeting next day on 10th May 2019, both meetings starting at 9am and held in the Forbes Memorial Services Club.

The Forbes Shire Council Events Coordinator Jolene has organised for delegates and partners arriving early on 9th May 2019 to participate in a tour departing the Forbes Memorial Services Club at 1pm of the multi stock Central West Livestock Exchange, to visit the VAST Solar farm then for a tour of the Amazing Sculpture then back to the Club  by 4.30ish. The Network dinner that evening will be held in the Forbes Sport & Recreation Club Chinese Restaurant. Numbers are needed.

The demand for accommodation for motels in the Forbes CBD will be at a premium on 10th May 2019 due to the Van Fest Music event in town that night, so delegates need to contact them and book as soon as possible. Phone numbers for the motels in the CBD provided by Jolene are as follows:

Plainsman Motel – 6852 2466; Forbes Victoria Inn – 6851 2233; Econolodge Ben Hall Motor Inn – 6851 2345 and Country Mile Motor Inn – 6852 4099. There are other motel/ hotel  options available.

The August meetings are to be held in Sydney at Club York, Bass rooms on 8/9th August 2019 (same as February meeting for Executive Committee and Ordinary meetings).Mid Coast Council have now confirmed they will host the November meetings in Gloucester with 7/8th November 2019 for Gloucester. Dates will be confirmed by the Executive in due course, but by sticking with the pattern of second Thursday/Friday in the aforementioned months is what we are working on for your diaries.

Membership Campaign

Coonamble Shire Council has expressed an interest in being part of the Association and after discussions with the Mayor, who is very keen, a proposal has been forwarded for the Council to consider membership in view of their renewable energy potential and the Coal Seam Gas issues. The Council is currently recruiting for a General Manager which may interrupt the decision.

.The Association at its May meeting in 2018, adopted a Marketing Policy to ensure membership increases by targeting more renewable energy development affected LGA’s in NSW and to formalise and stregthen the membership campaign. If any delegates have any colleagues in Local Government that may be interested in being part of our voice, please contact the Executive Officer.

Potential Speakers for next meetings of MERC

The Executive Officer has commenced chasing the following speakers for future meetings:

  • David Kitto, Executive Director of DPE Resource Assessments & Business systems team has been invited to attend in lieu his inability to attend the wind farming workshop and meeting next day at Crookwell in November last year;
  • Dr Alex King, Executive Director, Resources Policy, Planning & Programs, Division of Resources & Geoscience, DPE has been invited and has accepted to attend Forbes meeting 10th May 2019, to address delegates on engagement with non-industry stakeholders, the state and future of mining in NSW and his Division engaging more with local government going forward;
  • Nathan Laird, Director Legislative Updates, Policy and Strategy, DPE has been invited to address delegates on the devlopment of Community Participation Plans (CPP’s).He is currently organising a suitable person to attend the Forbes meeting on 10th May 2019;
  • Tony Corbett, Trade & Business Development Manager, Port of Newcastle has been suggested by life member Glenn Wilcox who suggested he be invited to provide an update on what is happening with coal & containers. He has advised will be available for the Sydney meeting in August;
  • Hon Adam Marshall, Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW, National Party;
  • Roy Butler, Member for Barwon, Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party NSW;
  • Hon Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning & Public Spaces, Liberal Party;
  • Matt Kean, Minister for Energy & Environment, Liberal Party;
  • Hon Gladys Berijiklian, Premier;
  • Hon John Barilaro, Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW, Investment & Trade

Life Membership Updates – Mitchell, Martin, Connor and Brady

  • John Martin – The Chair and Executive Officer have been requested to attend the Singleton Council meeting on 15th April 2019 to present the recently approved Life Membership to current Singleton Councillor (but no longer a delegate to MERC), Cr John Martin, which has been agreed to by the Chair and John in consutation with Singleton Council General Manager and staff. John was extremely honoured to be acknowledegd;
  • Cr Lilliane Brady OAM – Cr Brady OAM has submitted a letter of thanks to the Executive officer and requested its contents be circulated to delegates. The letter reads “I wish to thank you and each member of the Association for this prestigious honour. I am so grateful to receive a Lifetime Membership to the Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils (NSW) and I look forward to seeing you all at the next meeting. With all my heart, thank you. Lilliane Brady OAM, Mayor Cobar Shire Council”. A presentation will be made to her at the May meeting in Forbes;
  • Col Mitchell – Is elated with the award and is endeavouring to attend the MERC meeting in Sydney on 9th August 2019 to receive his award;
  • Chris Connor – Is equally honoured to receive the Life Membership and is hoping to attend the meeting in Gloucester in November 2019 to receive his Award.

 Research Fellowship Update

On 8th February 2019 at the Ordinary General Meeting, Dr Juan Castilla Rho, University of Wollongong, Research Fellow Participatory Modelling, briefed delegates on the participatory modelling research proposal with the three options, outputs and outcomes, as follows:

Option One – Research Agreement (4 year project) MERC & UoW – $35K pa each (cash and in kind), 1 Pilot case study (to be selected – mining, CSG, water resource, wind, etc.) and 1 PhD student, supervised by Dr Castilla and Prof Perez;

Option Two – OEH Environmental Research Grant (4 year project) MERC & UoW cost of $50K – $300K, to be split 50:50 depending on the grant quantum, with the involvement of 2 PhD students for 2 case studies, same supervision;

Option Three – ARC Linkage Project (2-5 year project) MERC & UoW – $50K – $300K (35/50% success rate), 3 Pilot studies, 3 PhD students, same supervision, plus Prof Moira Zellner, University of Illinois of Chicago, world leader in participatory steering of complex systems being involved in the workshops.

The outputs will be participatory modelling workshops; part of a management flight simulator; in journal papers; presentation at International conferences; published in news and media outlets. The outcomes are expected to be the piloting of participatory modelling social licence pathways; facilitate the assessment of mining and energy proposals; project has the potential to be included in guidelines, best practice and ultimately planning regulation. Below is a link to download the presentation:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FD0KEnGA08GNFx4s1IwVfVHLeweWTDYJ/view?usp=sharing

Delegates will need to determine if MERC is to proceed with the project or not, at the 10th May meeting in Forbes by having a discussion with your Councils, consideration of the benefits and funding options. Meanwhile, possible grant sources are being canvassed to cover the MERC  co contribution funds.

Discussions with Juan, Pascal and Executive Officer continue on the options if MERC decides to proceed. A decision will need to be made by MERC one way or another at the May meeting.

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues

“Autonomous trucks collide” From the Australian Mining Safety Journal, 19th March 2019.

BHP has confirmed that two autonomous mining trucks collided at the Jimblebar mine on Saturday evening at around 11.pm. A spokesperson for BHP confirmed that the autonomous truck incident occurred as a result of a loss of traction on slippery road surfaces when one vehicle slipped into the other. The trucks were travelling at relatively low speeds when the incident occurred. One truck was travelling at 27 km/h and the other at 14 km/h. No people were injured in the incident. The spokesperson said it followed “significant rainfall that deteriorated road surface, causing one vehicle to slip into the other. Operations resumed in the hours after the incident and no one was injured”

Jimblebar has successfully operated autonomous trucks since 2013 and reportedly run a 100% autonomous truck fleet since December 2017. An internal investigation is being conducted by BHP iron ore Jimblebar. The autonomous haul truck incident follows another minor incident at Fortescue Metals last month, details as follows:

An autonomous truck incident at Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) Christmas Creek operation this week has shone a light on the safety vulnerabilities of wireless mesh networks for the management of data associated with autonomous vehicles supplying a wide variety of sensory inputs. Fortescue Metals Group confirmed today that one of its Auto Haulage System (AHS) trucks reversed into another parked AHS truck at slow speed on Monday night.

According to reports in The West Australian, the back corner of the reversing truck smashed into the cab of the stationary truck. It is believed the incident may have occurred after a dropout in Wi-Fi coverage which facilitates the transfer of data from the truck to the communications centre. Fortescue Metals said in a statement that no one was hurt or at risk of being injured in Monday’s incident.

“This was not the result of any failure of the autonomous system,” Fortescue Chief Executive Elizabeth Gaines said in the statement. The media release confirmed that “No manned vehicles or people were involved and its AHS trucks have safely travelled more than 24.7 million kilometres since 2012.” FMG also confirmed that it is conducting a full investigation into the incident and will make details of the failure known to industry stakeholders and regulators.

Mesh network issues being investigated – Like all engineered systems, vulnerabilities and risks with systems are ever present and theoretically should be engineered out to remove those risks, however, many mesh network engineers have identified that failures can still occur in mesh networks for a variety of complex reasons. FMG says it’s investigating why the mesh network breakdown occurred.

For now, Fortescue will move on – FMG’s investigation will be one to watch by the industry. AMSJ suspects that as autonomous systems evolve at a rapid rate, incidents of this ilk will also continue to evolve in complexity. When a driver traditionally reversed into another vehicle in the past, the investigation was typically quite concise with causative factors quite clear. There wasn’t a need to check the amount of data being transferred through an ever-evolving and ageing mesh network that may have an increasing nodal failure rate. There wasn’t a need to check the efficacy of a sensor network, the speed of the packets of data or the actions of a controller in a control room. The times are a changing!

Meanwhile, the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety confirmed the incident had been reported and that it would review the company’s internal investigation report to determine what further actions might be required. The Department’s Director of Mines Safety, Andrew Chaplyn, said he understood that information relating to the incident had been shared with Fortescue staff at pre-start meetings this week. “Fortescue is co-operating with the department’s inquiries,” he said. Refer to www.amsj.com.au 

Chinese coal mine divides NSW   From Industrial Careers, 11 March 2019.

There is serious disagreement in NSW over a proposed new coal mine. Chinese state-owned China Energy Engineering Corporation (CEEC) has announced plans to build 2000MW of new coal generation in the New South Wales Hunter Valley, north of Sydney.It is to be located in a failed industrial zone and feature two 1000MW plants utilising high intensity, high efficiency coal-fired technology. CEEC is a major Chinese military-civil investment vehicle, holding contracts for Egyptian military projects, China’s famous Three Gorges hydroelectric project, a nuclear power plant for Pakistan and several coal-fired power stations in the India, Indonesia, Ghana and Vietnam.

Coalition backbencher Craig Kelly has described the plan a “fantastic” and urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to give it some taxpayer subsidies. “This is exactly what the market needs,” Mr Kelly said. “If the Government needs to underwrite it, if it needs a little bit of help, then that’s what we should be doing.”

The Greens say a “veritable army” is massing to stop the planned plant. “We just had our hottest summer on record. If Labor or Liberal [parties] give this project the tick of approval then you will see civil disobedience in Australia on a scale never seen before,” Greens energy spokesperson Adam Bandt said. For more details refer www.industrialcareers.com.au dated 11th march 2019,

“Title fight has wide implications”  from Industrial Careers 11th March 2019

The High Court has ruled on a native title case considered one of the biggest since Mabo. It is the first time the High Court has examined the Native Title Act’s compensation provisions, including placing a value on intangible harm caused by disconnection with country.The claim was brought by Ngaliwurru and Nungali native title holders over rights that were extinguished by the Northern Territory Government in the 1980s and 1990s.

The court settled on a final compensation amount of $2.5 million, divided into three components — economic loss, interest and non-economic loss for “spiritual” harm caused by disconnection. “The compensation for loss or diminution of traditional attachment to the land or connection to country and for loss of rights to gain spiritual sustenance from the land is the amount which society would rightly regard as appropriate,” the majority judgement said. The decision has set a precedent for similar claims nationwide, indicated in part by the fact that the governments of Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia were “interveners” or interested parties in the case, stepping in to support the NT and Federal Governments’ positions.

The process began when Timber Creek native title holders were awarded $3.3 million in compensation for the extinguishment of their native title rights in 2016. That decision was challenged by the NT and Federal Governments, and the compensation amount was reduced to $2.9 million. The NT and Federal Governments and the Ngaliwurru and Nungali claim group both appealed that reduction. The Federal and NT Governments argued that the native title rights were “overvalued”.

They argued that the economic loss should be less than 50 per cent of the freehold value of the land. The High Court agreed, awarding $320,250 for that component. That decision was partly based on the fact that Timber Creek was covered by a pastoral lease in the 1880s, which meant traditional owners kept “non-exclusive” rights to hunt, fish and practice their law and culture. The Ngaliwurru and Nungali people argued that the loss of native title was worth the entire freehold market value of the land.

This week, the High Court determined that the economic loss was worth 50 per cent of the freehold value, but also affirmed the original decision that the group was entitled to interest on that payment, and $1.3 million for cultural loss. Lawyer Tony Denholder said it has huge implications for other claims. He said “That the small area of Timber Creek still triggered a compensation liability of over $2.5 million, will have strong implications for the more than 2,800,000 sq km of native title land holdings across the rest of Australia,” he said. “The high court’s decision will likely to trigger compensation applications from many of the hundreds of native title holder groups around Australia, who finally have clarity – albeit limited – on how they might quantify the compensation owed to them for impacts on their native title.”

The ruling raises questions for the mining, resources and agricultural sectors, with suggestions that governments could pass liability costs onto third parties. Minerals Council of Australia chief Tania Constable says the industry wants governments to “provide policy certainty to promote investment, jobs and sustainable regional communities” .Refer www.industrialcareers.com.au

“Pollution killing millions”   From Industrial Careers, 13th March 2019

New estimates say air pollution is responsible for up to 8.8 million extra deaths around the world each year. That suggests air pollution causes 1.6 million more deaths each year than tobacco, though smoking is avoidable but air pollution is not. The researchers used exposure data from a model that includes atmospheric chemical processes and the way they interact with land and sea, as well as chemicals emitted from natural and man-made sources such as energy generation, industry, traffic and agriculture.

These were applied to data from the WHO, which included information on population density, geographical locations, ages, risk factors for several diseases and causes of death. They focused particularly on levels of polluting fine particles known as ‘particulate matter’ that are less than or equal to 2.5 microns in diameter – known as PM2.5 – and ozone.

Worldwide, they found that air pollution is responsible for 120 extra deaths per year per 100,000 of the population. “The number of deaths from cardiovascular disease that can be attributed to air pollution is much higher than expected,” said co-author of the study, Professor Thomas Münzel, from the Department of Cardiology of the University Medical Centre Mainz in Germany.

As a result of these findings, the researchers say that national governments and international agencies must take urgent action to reduce air pollution, including re-evaluating legislation on air quality and lowering limits on the annual average levels of air pollution to match the WHO guidelines.

Canada, the USA and Australia use the WHO guideline, but the EU is lagging a long way behind in this respect. The study is accessible here. Refer www.industrialcareers.com.au, 13th March 2019

Farmers say they are priced out of water auctions by miners” From The Land, 1st March 2019.  

A recent auction at Gunnedah saw coal miner Whitehaven, who operate Maules Creek, Tarrawonga and the planned Vickery extension mines, successfully bid $930 a megalitre for 460mL of groundwater in Zone 4 for a temporary transfer licence. The under bidder was Boggabri coal. Farmers dropped out of the groundwater bidding at $300ml. At another auction in Narrabri recently a mine paid $5100ml for permanent Zone 5 groundwater. Evidence of another way farmers are adversely impacted by mining operations which is never considered in an EIS. Refer to www.theland.com.au

Community hear community concerns about coal” From Industrial Careers, 18th March 2019

Rural residents are discussing the future of coal and how it may affect them. Coal is the big employer in NSW’s Hunter Valley region, with around 9,000 workers across 40 different mines. But some countries are moving away from coal, miners are capping production and the industry has been caught in almost perpetual political spotlight, creating concern that regional industries will be caught short. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA)says that over 100 major financiers have withdrawn from thermal coal projects in the last five years. Energy giant Glencore – a major player in the Hunter Valley and other resource regions – says it will cap coal production in response to global warming. Analyst Tim Buckley says communities face a harsh transition. “The Hunter Valley is probably one of the most exposed communities, economies and states in the world to this long-term zero thermal coal use trajectory,” he told the ABC.

Environmental group Lock the Gate has brought in expert speakers from the US to address Hunter residents about what happens when the coal game falls apart. However, the mining lobby does not hold the same concerns.

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) says global energy demand — including coal power — is on track to climb 66 per cent in the next 20 years. MCA chief Tania Constable says developing countries will continue to rely on Australian coal. “India’s per capita electricity consumption, currently one-tenth that of Australia, is expected to double by 2030,” she said. She called for a focus on maintaining the “highly paid, highly skilled jobs” and “valuable export income” provided by mining. Refer www.industrialcareers.com.au

Contacts

Clr Peter Shinton (Chair) peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au 0268492000 or Greg Lamont (Executive Officer) 0407937636, info@mininrelatedcouncils.asn.au.

MERC Newsletter – February 2019

Introduction

Delegates, here is the February 2019 MERC Newsletter. This newsletter has a lot of important information in it for you to read, please circulate this to your fellow Councillors and senior staff, so they can appreciate and understand the excellent work the Association and you are doing on behalf of your Council and community, with regard to mining and energy related matters.

Update on the Voluntary Planning Agreement Steering Committee

The first meeting of the Steering Committee, chaired by Stephen Free SC was held in Sydney on 15th February 2019, to address the outstanding issues with the quantum options for a VPA, etc to finalise this in 2019. The next meeting has been set down for 2nd May 2019.

At this meeting, it was agreed what the role of the Chair is to be (facilitate not arbitrate) and the role of the DPE (as observers). As well the parties have to verify the previously agreed negotiation framework and roads contributions calculator versions before the next meeting.

That left the outstanding issues to be resolved on the methodologies or principles for calculating non road contributions. Once position papers are prepared by NSWMC (on the implications of autonomous mining for VPAs) and MERC (to review Umwelt’s Worker Domicile Model, identify any impacts which are not included in that model which MERC considers should be the subject of financial contributions through VPAs, plus the methodologies for their calculation). The papers are to be distributed to parties before the next meeting when they will be considered.

MERC has engaged Oz Environmental to assist with this position paper, as they were part of the original working party and have done a lot of work on this already for MERC. The MERC VPA Steering Committee will seek delegates input in due course before the meeting on 2nd May 2019. The parties are aiming to have an agreed position by end of 2019.

Resources for Regions (R4R) versus a Royalties for Regions Media Release

MERC Executive Committee agreed at its meeting 7th February 2019 that a media release be prepared and forwarded to outlets throughout NSW to obtain as much coverage about the failure of the current Resources for Regions program to provide infrastructure for regions and the need for it to be replaced with a Royalties fro Regions program. This is supported by Labor, the Shooters, Fishers,& Farmers at State level and Federally former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

This is to occur through the Northern Daily Leader journalist Jamieson Murphy with publications in the Namoi Valley Independent and Country Leader. Deputy Chair Cr Lilliane Brady OAM, Cobar Shire Council has also given this a run on the ABC and Cobar News recently as has the Mayor of Broken Hill Cr Darriea Turley. A copy of the media release forwarded to Jamieson Murphy is as follows:

INTRODUCTION OF A “ROYALTIES FOR REGIONS” PROGRAM LOOKING HIGHLY LIKELY”

 The Chair of the Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils NSW (MERC), Councillor Peter Shinton, said today: “The rural and regional Councils of NSW, affected by the impacts from mining and related activities, have not received a fair proportion of the royalties the mining companies have paid into the consolidated revenue coffers of the Government. The intention of the royalties levy on the miners is that funds are supposed to be returned to the regions from where they were levied (in part), to assist with addressing our infrastructure shortcomings and with the social and economic impacts. This hasn’t been occurring since this Coalition government has been in power.”

He said “Our Association has recognised this shortcoming on behalf of its’ members and requested the leaders of the major political parties to improve the situation and adopt a ‘Royalties for Regions’ program approach similar to WA, in order to replace the existing Resources for Regions program with its stringent criteria to a program that has a set percentage of the royalties being returned direct to the Councils, as a March 2019 election platform”.

“We invited them to address delegates at our quarterly meeting on this topic in Sydney on 8th February 2019, however only Labor attended the meeting and albeit Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party leaders advised that they could not attend, they, Labor and the NSW Minerals Council all support a Royalties for Regions program as outlined by the Association, on behalf of its members”.

Adam Searle, Labor MLC, Opposition Leader of the Upper House and Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change, accompanied by MLC Mick Veitch, Shadow Minister for Lands and Rural Affairs, said to delegates that ”the NSW Coalition Government committed in 2011 to spend over $160m on the current Resources for Regions program but spent just $105m. In 2015, the State Government announced it would continue the program in similar amounts over the next four years, yet there have been only two rounds of the expected four and the allocations have been reduced”

He also said that “a Daley Labor Government will end asset sales as the source of investment in mining communities, in lieu of royalties, they will ensure that mining communities have a greater say in the distribution of funds, remove the need for a co contribution by Councils of 50 per cent, give mining communities greater certainty and confidence of the amounts distributed, the distribution of funds to be in a planned evidence based manner rather than an ad hoc pork barrelling exercise that the Resources for Regions program has now become”.

 He said “In government, to do this, we will develop a new model for Resources for Regions, linked to a proportion of mining royalties to be invested in mining affected communities, this to be aimed at least the same level of funding as was committed to be invested under the present program by the Coalition Government. This hasn’t been done, they have let the regional communities down”.

Cr Shinton from the Association said “As there is likely to be a change of government, this will be a victory for the hard working delegates at MERC, who have been lobbying Ministers and senior government officials for many years, on behalf of the concerned residents and member Councils they represent, in order to rectify the issues with regional infrastructure funding”.

Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)

Clr Hasler (MERC delegate to RAF) has reported with the election on 23rd March 2019, it is not likely that a further meeting will be held until several months after the elections. The government is now in caretaker mode.

Next Meetings of Association for 2019

The next Executive Committee meeting will be on 9th May 2019 at Forbes, the Ordinary General Meeting next day on 10th February 2019, both meetings starting at 9am. The Forbes Shire Council Events Coordinator has been in touch with the Executive Officer aiming to have a tour of the Central West Livestock Exchange, a Wind Farm and a Solar farm at this stage in the afternoon of 9th May 2019 from 1pm for early arrivals with a network dinner that evening.

The August meeting is to be held in Sydney at Club York, Bass rooms on 8/9th August 2019 (same as February meeting) and Mid Coast Council have now confirmed they will host the November meetings in Gloucester with 7/8th November 2019 for Gloucester. Dates will be confirmed by the Executive in due course, but by sticking with the pattern of second Thursday/Friday in the aforementioned months is what we are working on for your diaries.

Membership Campaign

Upper Lachlan have agreed to join MERC effective from 1st July 2019, with Mayor John Stafford and General Manager John Bell to be the delegates. This gives MERC 22 members. Awaiting an approval to present to Country Mayors Association in May 2019

Coonamble Shire Council has expressed an interest in being part of the Association and after discussions with the Mayor, who is very keen, a proposal has been forwarded for the Council to consider membership in view of their renewable energy potential and the Coal Seam Gas issues

The Association at its May meeting in 2018, adopted a Marketing Policy to ensure membership increases by targeting more renewable energy development affected LGA’s in NSW and to formalise and strengthen the membership campaign. If any delegates have any colleagues in Local Government that may be interested in being part of our voice, please contact the Executive Officer.

Research Fellowship Update

On 8th February 2019 at the Ordinary General Meeting, Dr Juan Castilla Rho, University of Wollongong, Research Fellow Participatory Modelling, briefed delegates on the participatory modelling research proposal with the three options, outputs and outcomes, as follows:

Option One – Research Agreement (4 year project) MERC & UoW – $35K pa each (cash and in kind), 1 Pilot case study (to be selected – mining, CSG, water resource, wind, etc.) and 1 PhD student, supervised by Dr Castilla and Prof Perez;

 

Option Two – OEH Environmental Research Grant (4 year project) MERC & UoW cost of $50K – $300K, to be split 50:50 depending on the grant quantum, with the involvement of 2 PhD students for 2 case studies, same supervision;

 

Option Three – ARC Linkage Project (2-5 year project) MERC & UoW – $50K – $300K (35/50% success rate), 3 Pilot studies, 3 PhD students, same supervision, plus Prof Moira Zellner, University of Illinois of Chicago, world leader in participatory steering of complex systems being involved in the workshops.

 

The outputs will be participatory modelling workshops; part of a management flight simulator; in journal papers; presentation at International conferences; published in news and media outlets. The outcomes are expected to be the piloting of participatory modelling social licence pathways; facilitate the assessment of mining and energy proposals; project has the potential to be included in guidelines, best practice and ultimately planning regulation. Below is a link to download the presentation:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FD0KEnGA08GNFx4s1IwVfVHLeweWTDYJ/view?usp=sharing

Delegates will need to determine if MERC is to proceed with the project or not, at the 10th May meeting in Forbes by having a discussion with your Councils, consideration of the benefits and funding options. Meanwhile, possible grant sources are being canvassed to cover the MERC  co contribution funds.

Project Working Party

At the Ordinary General meeting, delegates noted the Skills Matrix and Consultants Register that were developed by the Project Working party and circulated . Delegates also spent  considerable time on the amended Coal Seam Gas Policy, which will be typed without tracking and presented to delegates to adopt on 10th May 2019, in the new format. The project working party is Chaired by Jason Linnane, General Manager, Singleton Council and consists of planning staff from members – Ron Zwicker (Wollongong CC), David Henry (Wollondilly SC), Heather Nicholls (Cabonne SC) and Andrew Johns (Gunnedah SC). Ron in particular did a lot of the major review work and is to be congratulated for this. If your Council hasn’t responded to the Skills matrix survey there is still time, as the matrix can be regularly updated as Cessnock has done recently, since the list was distributed.

Potential Speakers for next meeting in Forbes 10th May 2019

The Executive Officer has been chasing the following speakers for future meetings:

  • David Kitto, Executive Director of DPE Resource Assessments & Business systems team has been invited to attend in lieu his inability to attend the wind farming workshop and meeting next day at Crookwell in November last year.
  • Dr Alex King, Executive Director, Resources Policy, Planning & Programs, Division of Resources & Geoscience, DPE has been invited to address delegates on engagement with non-industry stakeholders, the state and future of mining in NSW and his Division engaging more with local government going forward. Which is all very timely given our discussons with University of Wollongong on a better model of consulting (He has been contacted regarding being involved in the participatory modelling exercise perhaps DPE may be interested in being apart of this project?).
  • Nathan Laird, Director Legislative Updates, Policy and Strategy, DPE has been invited to address delegates on the development of Community Participation Plans (CPP’s). You can see further details in related matters of interest from his email to all councils in NSW on CPP’s.
  • Tony Corbett, Trade & Business Development Manager, Port of Newcastle has been suggested by life member Glenn Wilcox who suggested he be invited to provide an update on what is happening with coal & containers.

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues

 “Community Participation Plans” Nathan Laird, Director Legislative Updates, DPE on 26th February 2019, emailed this: The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 has been updated to make community participation central to the planning system. Supporting this objective, is a new measure requiring all public authorities that have planning functions under the EP&A Act, including councils, to develop a community participation plan (CPP). CPPs must be finalised and published on the ePlanning portal by 1 December 2019. The link to the FAQs is here.  If you have any further questions about the Departments CPP, the CPP implementation program and questions in the FAQ document please contact the Legislative Updates team at legislativeupdates@planning.nsw.gov.au

 “Latest climate policy fails to provide clean energy investment confidence” Clean Energy Council sent this out on Monday 25 February 2019:

The Climate Solutions Package announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison today will do little to reduce emissions across the energy sector or provide the policy certainty needed to continue momentum in clean energy investment, the Clean Energy Council said today.
Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said today’s announcement is no substitute for strong energy policy. “Any policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which ignores the need to transition our emissions-intensive energy sector – the largest source of emissions in the Australian economy – to clean energy, is not taking the matter seriously. It also misses a golden opportunity to incentivise further private investment, further lower energy prices and create jobs,” Mr Thornton said. “This new fund will not apply to the energy generation sector. This means that the momentum created by $20 billion of private investment in large-scale renewable energy being built behind the Renewable Energy Target is now at risk. All the incredible expertise and capacity the industry has built could be lost without policy certainty beyond 2020.

“As the Clean Energy Council outlined recently in a series of policy recommendations for the upcoming Federal Election, Australia is in desperate need of a long-term energy policy that includes a target for reducing emissions across the electricity sector. “Along with many other organisations such as the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group, the Clean Energy Council backed the government’s efforts to deliver cheap, clean and reliable energy through its National Energy Guarantee. While climate and energy policy remain a difficult political issue, the lack of any genuine policy is unsustainable for the energy sector,” he said.  Mr Thornton said the funding for a second Bass Strait interconnector to provide a stronger link between the mainland and Tasmania’s hydro generation, pumped hydro storage and other renewable resources will help to unlock Tasmania’s enormous renewables potential and is very welcome.

“Clean Energy industry pumped about potential for hydro to unlock low cost renewables Wednesday 27th February 2019.  The clean energy industry is pumped about a clean energy future that features one of the country’s most well-established technologies, the Clean Energy Council said in relation to funding announcements this week for the Snowy 2.0 expansion and Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation project. Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said “while innovation and economies of scale continued to make new clean energy technologies cheaper, hydro power’s effectiveness and long heritage makes it a perfect partner to complement wind and solar in Australia. These pumped hydro projects are tailor-made to work in concert with renewables, but the business case collapses if the government uses taxpayer funds for new coal-fired power plants. A mix of clean energy technologies can now do everything new coal can do – but cheaper, cleaner and more reliably,” Mr Thornton said.

 “Studies from our most credible organisations have shown that our power system can run on 50 per cent renewables with minimal investment in additional energy storage. The great news about the Snowy 2.0 expansion and the Battery of the Nation is that they pave the way for much higher levels of renewable energy in Australia. Both Snowy Hydro and Hydro Tasmania have made huge contributions to Australia’s energy system over many decades, and it is fantastic to see them taking on a renewed role in powering our energy future.
“It is important however that government intervention and funding of investments is managed carefully and transparently to ensure the impact on market dynamics and private investment flow” he said. “The Federal Government has pledged $1.38 billion in funding and a green light for the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro expansion this week, along with $56 million for the Marinus Link project which would provide a second cable across Bass Strait to make Tasmania’s renewable energy resources more available for the mainland. The Federal Government says it will consider underwriting the Battery of the Nation project, while Tasmania’s Hodgman Government will make $30 million available to Hydro Tasmania to refine the number of potential sites from 14 down to three.

Mr Thornton said while federal funding for Marinus Link – matched by federal Labor – would help to make the Battery of the Nation project viable, questions remain about power transmission for the Snowy expansion. “At the moment we have a very promising project which will need substantial new investment in poles and wires to make its electricity available to the grid when it is most needed. It is still not clear who will pay for that,” he said.
“The clean energy industry believes it is time for state government like New South Wales and Victoria to step up and help with connecting Snowy 2.0, to ensure project can proceed.”

 “Real policy support needed to give a lift to huge potential of clean hydrogen” The Clean Energy Council also sent this media release out on 1st March 2019.

While the Federal Government’s support for hydrogen to date is welcome, tangible policy initiatives and an extension to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), are needed to unlock a huge potential export earner for our economy, the Clean Energy Council said today. Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton emphasised the potential for clean hydrogen as a way to effectively export the renewable energy produced by Australia’s world-class sun, wind, water and bioenergy resources, when he said:

“Clean hydrogen is an exciting opportunity that uses technology developed by scientists at CSIRO to make the gas export-ready. There is a large international market for hydrogen emerging, particularly in Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan, which is committed to working towards a hydrogen-based economy,” Mr Thornton said.
“The government’s interest and support for this industry of the future is obviously welcome, but it needs to be accompanied by serious policy and strategy development to realise a massive new opportunity. “The Clean Energy Council believes clean hydrogen should be developed as part of a national clean energy export strategy, which is one of the recommendations of our 2019 Federal Election recommendations.

The strategy should also assess measures such as undersea cables to supply electricity to international markets in south-east Asia. “ARENA has played an incredibly important role in helping to develop early-stage clean energy technology. While the agency is expected to spend almost all of its available funding in the next 12 months and wind up in 2022, its job is only half done. “If the Federal Government is serious about developing Australia’s hydrogen potential, it also needs to extend the funding of ARENA to allow it to leverage expertise that will help to reduce the cost of producing hydrogen in Australia and develop a promising new export earner for the future “ he said. Refer www.cleanergycouncil.org.au media releases.

 “Local Narrabri gas to underpin new manufacturing jobs in northwest NSW “ Santos media release 27th February 2019.  Santos and Perdaman have today announced a non-binding agreement for the supply of 14.5PJ of natural gas per annum over 20 years, subject to a final investment decision for the Narrabri Gas Project. The gas would be supplied to a proposed new ammonium nitrate plant near Narrabri to produce fertiliser for agribusiness, a key sector of the NSW economy. The plant would be developed in parallel with the Narrabri Gas Project to use appraisal and early development gas.

Hybrid power, a combination of gas-fired power generation integrated with renewable power generation will also be assessed to provide electricity to both the Narrabri Gas Project and the ammonium nitrate plant. The plant is expected to support 700 jobs during construction and another 100 direct and 100 indirect ongoing jobs during operations. This is in addition to the hundreds of jobs that will be supported by the Narrabri Gas Project during both construction and operations. These two projects will be a boost for small businesses and the communities in and around Narrabri.

Santos Managing Director and CEO Kevin Gallagher said Santos has committed to develop the Narrabri Gas Project solely for the east coast domestic gas market. “Narrabri gas will be very competitively-priced gas. Santos will bring to Narrabri our experience in Queensland where we have reduced connected well costs by a massive 84 per cent since 2015. Keeping the cost of supply down is a very good way to keep gas prices down,” Mr Gallagher said. “The Narrabri Gas Project could produce enough gas to supply up to half NSW’s needs. “It’s also very important to us that the environment and water resources are protected, and NSW has very strong environmental regulation to ensure Narrabri can be developed safely and sustainability The Narrabri Gas Project is currently being assessed by the NSW Department of Planning ahead of a decision by the Independent Planning Commission”.

“We want the process to be comprehensive and robust, so the community can be confident in the outcome. There is no place for politics in the independent planning process,” Mr Gallagher said. “Manufacturing customers like Perdaman recognise the importance of locating new plants close to new natural gas supply sources and are hopeful the Narrabri Gas Project will proceed to a final investment decision as soon as possible”.

Energy Saver NSW – Incentives for Small Business”, 28th February 2019

Delegates are you aware of the incentives available to small business, to reduce energy use and save on power bills, you may wish to put this on your websites and make the local business communities or Chamber of Commerce aware of them if they are not already. For more information please go to:

https://energysaver.nsw.gov.au/business/discounts-and-incentives

Contacts

Clr Peter Shinton (Chair) peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au 0268492000

or Greg Lamont (Executive Officer) 0407937636, info@mininrelatedcouncils.asn.au.

MERC Newsletter – January 2019

Introduction

Delegates, here is the January 2019 MERC Newsletter. This newsletter has a lot of important information in it for you to read, please circulate this to your fellow Councillors and senior staff, so they can appreciate and understand the excellent work the Association and you are doing on behalf of your Council and community, with regard to mining and energy related matters.

Update on the Joint Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party (VPAWP)

Current position is that the DPE have confirmed that Stephen Free (Senior Counsel) will chair the Steering Committee, which will consist of MERC VPA working party (Cr Moore, Cr Hasler, Steve Loane & Executive Officer), DPE and NSW Minerals Council (Steve Galilee and Mark Jacobs). The the first meeting is to be held in Sydney on 15th February 2019 to address the outstanding issues with the quantum options for a VPA, etc to finalise this in 2019

Regional Independent Assessment Panel (RIAP) & Resources for Regions (R4R)

The last meeting for RIAP was held on 24th January 2019 where 38 projects were assessed initially for consideration with $190m value of projects, to allocate $50m against the new criteria. There were 19 projects shortlisted and 8 deemed not eligible as they did not reach the Benefits Cost Ratio of greater than 1 set by Treasury, despite the projects being otherwise worthy of funding. The panel ratified this list in accordance with the Guidelines for the Resources for Regions program as the projects met the criteria for affordability, strategic and deliverability for referral to the Premier and Cabinet to approve.

Website

There is a new part on website where only delegates can access minutes by a “log in” which has now been set up by CIBIS and those that responded have been registered and have been informed on the process by the CIBIS representative Erin. If others are still to register let the Executive Officer know who and the email address and you will get registered by Erin.

Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)

The last meeting of RAF was held on 18th October 2018, Clr Hasler provided a comprehensive update to our November meetings, with a copy of his report in the business papers. With the election in March 2019, it is not likely that a further meeting will be held until after the elections as Clr Hasler has reported.

Next Meetings of Association for 2019

The next Executive Committee meeting will be on 7th February 2019 at Club York, 99 York St up from The Grace and the Ordinary General Meeting next day on 8th February 2019 in same venue starting at 9am. Unfortunately a room big enough to accommodate 35 delegates and speakers in a U shape and top table could not be allocated at Parliament House for this meeting.

The May meeting is to be held in Forbes, then in Sydney in August and Mid Coast Council have now confirmed they will host the November meetings in Gloucester, all dates are yet to be confirmed by the Executive Committee and host Councils.

Dates will be confirmed by the Executive in due course, but by sticking with the pattern of second Thursday/Friday in the aforementioned months is what we are working on for your diaries.

Membership Campaign

Upper Lachlan have agreed to join MERC effective from 1st July 2019, with Mayor John Stafford and General Manager John Bell to be the delegates. This gives MERC 22 members.

The Executive Officer has approached Country Mayors Association to present to them in March, unfortunately they have invited politicians to address them and have no time on their agenda to do this. The CMA to provide an email but is overseas at the moment. The Executive Officer has sent the current proposal pro forma to delegates to review and provide input and suggestions to the Executive Officer on the content, to incise further interest. Membership discussions have also re commenced with the Mayor of Muswellbrook by members of the MERC Executive.

The Association at its May meeting in 2018 adopted a Marketing Policy to ensure membership increases by targeting more renewable energy development affected LGA’s in NSW and to formalise and strengthen the membership campaign. If any delegates have any colleagues in Local Government that may be interested in being part of our voice, please contact the Executive Officer.

Research Fellowship Update

Dr Juan Castilla – Pho provided a presentation to the Executive Committee meeting and the workshop on 8th November 2018 and again in full to the delegates at the Ordinary meeting on 9th November 2018 on how the University of Wollongong can work with MERC on a PhD research fellowship using their Participatory Collaborative Consultation Simulation and Modelling approach.

Delegates were extremely impressed and can see its application in all forms of consultation with the community and have resolved that the Executive Committee pursue this concept in consultation with the University, to look at ways to fund and implement it with a view to have the PhD Fellowship in place by the September 2019 intake of PhD students.

Executive Officer has been in touch with Juan who requested the presentations from the wind farming workshop to better understand the consultation needs of delegates and their communities for the project. There are some issues to consider and Juan has indicated that he has already identified a prospective PhD student and that the project could start in March 2019 for their side, however the working party has not been launched as yet and funding options etc., considered.

Juan has been requested to provide further details on funding options and how the process may work for both sides before convening the working party. Consequently, Juan will be presenting to delegates on 8th February the changes to what he originally proposed in order to improve funding chances with an international connection with University of Illinois at Chicago. Very exciting times ahead!

Project Working Party

The project working party Chaired by Jason Linnane, General Manager, Singleton Council, consisting of planning staff form members – Ron Zwicker (Wollongong CC), David Henry (Wollondilly SC), Heather Nicholls (Cabonne SC) and Andrew Johns (Gunnedah SC) reviewed the MERC CSG Policy in relation to the NSW Gas Plan; they have shortlisted the existing panel of consultants; prepared a Skills Matrix of what member Councils  have for renewable energy, mining and other specialised skill sets that could be accessed by members to assist with resource sharing, etc. The Coal Seam Gas policy will be presented to delegates at the February 8th 2019 meeting and the skills matrix and panel of consultants will be distributed to dlegates in due course.They have done an excellent job for delegates.

Speakers on 8th February 2019

Delegates requested that leaders of the respective major political parties be invited to the Sydney meeting in February 2019 and given the elections due in NSW in March, it has been an exercise to get them to attend or even respond to address the topic to replace the current program of “Resources for Regions” with a “Royalties for Regions” program where royalties as a set percentage are returned to the LGA’s that they were gleaned from and have been impacted by mining and energy activities to rectify infrastructure shortfalls in regional areas.

The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers have and indicated they can’t attend to speak as Robert Borsak and Robert Brown and Phil Donato all had prior commitments but support this approach as a policy platform and will provide that to MERC in writing. Labor will be attending with the Shadow Ministers for Rural Affairs (Mick Veitch, MLC) and Leader of the Legislative Assembly and Shadow Minister for Resources, Industry, Energy and Industrial Relations (Adam Searle) talking about the topic as an election platform.

Other speakers will be David Mooney DPE on Renewables and the Large Scale Solar Guidleines fro State Sognificant Developments and Stephen Barry Director Policy DPE providing an update on Planning Policy changes, etc. plus Dr Juan Castilla – Rho, University of Wollongong talking about the Participatory Modelling project mentioned earlier in this newsletter.

Despite the failure to attract all leaders or their substitutes from the political parties to talk about “Royalties for Regions” as an election platform, these presentations should be informative & of great interest to delegates. Campaigning period is hard for them to meet us.

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues in the Press

“Have your say on Tahmoor South Coal proposal” – Cr Michael Banasik has forwarded this article from the Wollondilly Advertiser, dated the 24th January 2019:-

“Works at SIMEC Mining’s Tahmoor South Coal Project could continue until 2035 if a proposal to extend the underground mining area is approved. An Environment Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed extension went on public exhibition at the Department of Planning website this week and residents have until March 5th to have their say on the proposal. The current mine was scheduled for closure in 2022, but the proposed extension would see the employment of almost 400 people continue for a further 13 years.

SIMEC’s chief operating officer Matt Reed said the current mine space had almost run its course and there was a great need to expand. “The Tahmoor operations have limited coal resource remaining in the current approved mining areas,” he said. “The Tahmoor South Project will see mining operations move to the southern part of existing leases. With the Tahmoor mine providing the high-quality coking coal required to make steel, we are confident that we have a business model to deliver strong results for our Australian operations.”

The Department of Planning’s resource assessments director Howard Reed said it was important the community read through the EIS and shared their thoughts. “Community feedback is vital and will be taken into consideration when we assess this project,” he said.

“The Minister for Planning has requested the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) hold a public hearing when the EIS exhibition has ended, to provide further opportunity for community input early in the assessment process, and the Department will also engage an independent groundwater expert.” The EIS highlighted several important issues that the proposed extended mining works would encounter. These included impacts to Thirlmere Lakes, Aboriginal heritage sites, traffic and the economy, among others.

The statement determined the extended works – which would see four million tonnes of coking and thermal coal transported per year – would have “negligible groundwater and surface water impacts on the Thirlmere Lakes that would be comparable to levels of natural variability and would be imperceptible in many circumstances”.

Research found 40 Aboriginal sites which could fall within subsidence areas. The statement said “mitigation and management for potential impacts to cultural heritage includes the preparation and implementation of a Heritage Management Plan [and] should monitoring detect the early development of potentially severe differential movements at these archaeological sites during the extraction of the early longwalls, adaptive management would be applied”. An increase in “construction and operational traffic is anticipated as a result of the proposed development”, but the impact is “considered minor”. The statement said SIMEC would work closely with Roads and Maritime Services and Wollondilly Council to minimise traffic impacts.

The EIS predicts the proposal would provide a net benefit of about $699.5 million throughout its life, “of which up to $132 million would flow through to the Wollondilly region. Community benefits would be generated primarily through employment which would peak at 422 full time equivalent employees in the operational stages following development and construction phase of the proposed development,” it read. “The proposed development is also expected to generate increased economic activity and employment within the wider NSW community, through wage spending and demand for downstream services and suppliers.”

The proposed mine extension would continue to be accessed via the existing surface facilities, with some infrastructure upgrades planned. SIMEC’s Matt Reed said the mine operators would continue their success within the community. “Tahmoor Mine has established its environmental credentials over many years and will continue to work with the community to maintain its high standards of performance,” he said. “A number of mine plan changes have been made in recent months to ensure we continue to meet this objective. “I am looking forward to hearing the community’s views on our plans, along with any opportunities to improve what we do.”

If there are more than 25 public objections received during public exhibition period, the planning department’s recommendation, including any conditions, will be referred to the IPC for a final decision. Visit majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au to read the report.

 “Monetary Benefit Orders” An extract from the LGNSW Newsletter, 24th January 2019

In a first for environmental regulators in Australia, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has introduced a framework to strip offenders of the financial advantage gained from breaking environmental laws. The framework, which can be used by councils, helps regulators determine the benefits offenders gain through environmental crime and pursue recovery by asking the court to impose monetary benefit orders as part of sentencing packages.

A protocol for calculating monetary benefits and further information is available on the EPA website. Councils instituting criminal proceedings in the Land and Environment Court can apply for Monetary Benefit Orders, but they do not apply in local courts. The Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators network (AELERT) has developed a monetary benefits toolkit in partnership with the EPA. Network members can access these additional resources. Email AELERT to join. For more information or to join the email list for updates on MBOs email the EPA

“Large Scale Solar Energy Guidelines for State Significant Developments”  The DPE has released the following document for the information of stakeholders.

“ARENA Studies Geothermal Homes” from www.industrialcareers.com.au, 29 JANUARY 2019

 

“ARENA wants to study the benefits of geothermal energy in the residential sector and greenfield estates. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $500,000 in funding to Climate-KIC Australia for a three-year longitudinal study of geothermal technology. It is part of a $1.7 million project that will include a commercial-scale demonstration of renewable ground-source heat pumps being deployed in the Fairwater residential community in Blacktown, Western Sydney.

Geothermal heat pump systems will supply heating and cooling to each of the over 800 new dwellings in the Fairwater precinct. The project aims to use existing buildings to evaluate performance of energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project would demonstrate the potential of using geothermal energy to power households. “Ground sourced thermal energy being installed in new housing estates could reduce energy consumption and cost as well as benefiting the network by lowering peak demand and the associated need to invest in expensive infrastructure,” Mr Miller said. “If successful, this study could help demonstrate the value of geothermal energy to greenfield developers, potentially seeing further housing developments implement this renewable technology,” he said.

Climate-KIC will lead the project team comprising University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Curtin University, Watt Watchers and the Green Building Council of Australia, with $180,000 each of funding as well as in-kind support over three years from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and the developer of Fairwater, Frasers Property Australia. If successful, the project will pave the way by establishing a business case for industry-wide adoption of ground-source heat pumps within local, renewable and efficient energy systems.

‘”Robot Rail Complete” From www.industrialcareers.com.au 7th January 2019:

Rio Tinto says it has completed the roll out of its autonomous freight train system in iron ore operations in Western Australia. Rio’s Auto Haul program cost around $1.2 billion and includes fully or semi-autonomous drills, trains and even smaller vehicles such as light trucks.

The latest addition is Scania’s autonomous XT tipper truck system at Rio Tinto’s Dampier Salt operation in Western Australia. Rio Tinto Iron Ore managing director for rail, port and core services Ivan Vella says Auto Haul has shown good early results in improving productivity and reducing bottlenecks. “Over the coming months we will continue to refine our autonomous operations to ensure we are able to maximise value,” he said “We continue to work closely with drivers during this period and do not expect to make any redundancies in 2019 as a result of the deployment of Auto Haul.”

‘Self – Driving Tests Approved” 24th January 2019 from www.industrialcareers.com.au

Victoria has approved driverless car trials on rural roads. With road fatalities five times higher on country roads than in the city, the state will investigate whether non-human drivers are better at handling dangerous conditions.

Industrial giant Bosch has received a $2.3 million state government grant for its automated vehicle technology, which will be tested on high-speed rural roads later this year. Bosch obtained the state’s first permit, but other successful applicants should be announced soon. The driverless vehicles will be exposed to a range of conditions, weather and traffic.

“The tragic fact is that you’re five times as likely to be killed on a rural road, than in the city. That’s why we’re rolling out a record roads investment in rural Victoria, and this is another way we can improve safety and save lives,” government MP Jacinta Allan said.

Bosch Australia president Gavin Smith said the technology will improve safety and reduce trauma on rural roads.

The funding comes from the $9 million Connected and Automated Vehicle Trial Grants Program, part of the Victorian Government’s $1.4 billion Towards Zero Action Plan.

In late 2017, VicRoads called for expressions of interest from companies, industry bodies and other transport technology organisations to apply for funding to spur the development of these emerging technologies, which will lead to reduced deaths and serious injuries.

“The trials will support Victoria’s readiness for automated vehicle technologies and the knowledge gained will provide a better understanding of the infrastructure required to get these vehicles on the road, maximising their safety benefits,” the government said in a statement.

Australian Energy Generation 2018 Charts – Handy Facts & Figures

The following Charts show the spread of energy sources in Australia in comparison from 2017 to 2018 outlining where the changes are in the national energy market (Provided by Warwick Giblin, Oz Environmental Pty Ltd.

Private Power Costs Counted”, 21 January 2019 from www.industrialcareers.com.au

New research suggests the privatised electricity sector costs Australian households over $200 per year. “Privatisation of the electricity industry has resulted in enormous increases in wasteful spending, including high-pressure sales tactics, excessive numbers of managers, and dizzying advertising and so-called ‘chase’ costs,” says David Richardson, Senior Research Fellow at The Australia Institute.

“The annual cost of these economically wasteful activities adds up to $2 billion per year. These costs are passed on to customers in their electricity bill, leaving households over $200 worse off a year. He said the financial sector has also reaped huge rewards from power privatisation.

“In fact, the electricity industry now spends more on finance and banking costs than it does on the actual fossil fuels to power its electricity generators,” Mr Richardson said.

The full report is accessible in PDF form, here. Its key findings include:

  • Real output per employee in the electricity sector has fallen by 37 per cent between 2000 and 2018, due to the excessive allocation of ultimately unproductive labour to advertising, sales, contract administration and other activities associated with privatisation
  • Productivity growth has been worse than for any other industry in Australia, contrary to the assumption that privatisation enhances efficiency
  • The number of sales staff employed by electricity companies has grown almost 400 per cent since the industry began to be privatised in the mid-1990s and the number of managers has grown over 200 per cent
  • Over the same period, the number of electrical tradespeople and other workers involved in actual production has grown just 21 per cent
  • Electricity sector now spends more on finance and banking costs than the actual fossil fuels that power electricity generation.

 

Contacts: Clr Peter Shinton (Chair) peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au 0268492000 or

Greg Lamont (Executive Officer) 0407937636, info@mininrelatedcouncils.asn.au.