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 – Dec 2018

Introduction

Delegates, here is the December 2018 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)

The working party (Cr Sue Moore, Cr Owen Hasler, Steve Loane and Greg Lamont) and MERC Chair Cr Peter Shinton, met on 22nd August 2018 in Sydney with the DPE (Alison Frame, Felicity Greenway and Steven Barry and the NSW Minerals Council (Steve Galliee and Claire Doherty) for an hour to discuss areas of agreement and the way forward. The meeting was very constructive.

The aim of the steering committee is to go over the areas not in agreement and determine a path forward to get agreement, so the Guidelines can be finalised and was to be adopted by delegates at our Annual General Meeting in November 2018. NSW Minerals Council are also keen to have these Guidelines finalised as soon as possible but needed agreement of the issues confirmed (DA Schematic, Roads Calculator and need for a dispute resolution provision determined up front) to take back to their Executive on 20th September 2018 to justify their investment in the project and any further involvement.

Current position is that the DPE have confirmed that Stephen Free will chair the Steering Committee and the working party hoped a meeting would be held before the end of 2018 (depending on Chair) to establish protocols, etc. However now the first meeting is to be held in Sydney on 15th February 2019 to fit in with the other parties.

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

The last meeting for RIAP was held on 6th September 2018 where 35 projects have been received for consideration with $190m value of projects for shortlisting, to allocate $50m against the new criteria. A shortlist has been agreed on and awaiting clarification of some projects by Infrastructure NSW before RIAP is called for a meeting again for the adoption of a final list of approved projects to be considered by Cabinet later in the year.

Those that were good mining related projects but not shortlisted for not meeting the criteria despite the changes to the criteria, are going to be directed towards other funding programs if eligible and there were other projects that were simply not eligible and missed out altogether.The next meeting to be held in Sydney on 24th January 2019.

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 NSW Parliament House in Jubilee Room, now confirmed.

The May meeting is to be held in Forbes who are working on dates, then in the NSW Parliament in August (dates to be confirmed) and awaiting a response from Mid Coast Council who are also working on dates regarding November for 2019 meetings.

Dates will be confirmed by the Executive in due course, but by sticking with the pattern of second Thursday/Friday in the aforementioned months and bookings at Parliament House is what we are working on for your diaries as per the “Claim the Dates” email last week.

Membership Campaign

Queanbeyan – Palerang, Yass Valley and Upper Lachlan Shire Councils attended the wind farming workshop in view of their wind farming developments. They were all going back to report to their Councils on the merits of joining MERC and it is hoped they do. Fantastically, Upper Lachlan have agreed to join MERC, thanks to the good work done by the delegates in talking to the Upper Lachlan Councillors during the recent meetings there. This gives MERC 22 members. Still awaiting Balranald and Narrandera Shire Councils and some of the invited workshop wind farming Councils, to respond.

The Executive Officer has approached Country Mayors Association to present to them in March and has sent the current proposal pro forma to delegates to review and provide input and suggestions to the Executive Officer on the content, to entice 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.

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. More later.

Project Working Party

The working party is currently reviewing the MERC CSG Policy in relation to the NSW Gas Plan; they have reviewed and shortlisted the existing panel of consultants; prepared a Skills Matrix in member Councils for renewable energy, mining and other specialised skill sets that could be accessed by members to assist with resource sharing, etc. They will be presented to delegates at the February 8th 2019 meeting..

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

 “Fly In Fly Out workers distress studied” Industrial Careers reports on 11th December 2018 the following: “A third of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) resource workers experience high levels of psychological distress, a survey has found. Experts at Curtin University have studied the mental health and wellbeing of FIFO workers, making 18 recommendations for workers suffering from mental health issues.

The researchers surveyed 3,000 FIFO workers, 400 partners and 300 former FIFO workers, and specifically tracked the experiences of 200 FIFO workers during their work rosters. It found FIFO workers were “clearly at risk” of mental health issues. A total of 33 per cent experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress, compared to just 17 per cent among non-FIFO workers.

The report calls for shorter work rosters, permanent rooms at housing camps, efforts to reduce the stigma of mental health, support programs, training for leaders and providing reliable communications for workers to talk to their loved ones.

The WA Government says the study shows that if the sector does not improve its practices, it could be forced to make a currently voluntary code of conduct mandatory. WA Health Minister Roger Cook said legislation is still possible. “If in the community’s mind they aren’t taking the necessary actions to create safe workplaces, mentally safe workplaces for their workers, well then it will be the requirement for the Government to legislate,” he said.

For further details go to www.industrialcareers.com.au

“Climate shifts counted” The Industrial Careers reported on 4th December 2018 the following:

“New research suggests workers will have to start before dawn to beat the heat of climate change at the end of the century.

The new study indicates that if society tries to avoid the economic impacts of climate change on outdoor labour by shifting working hours, outdoor workers in many regions will need to start working well before dawn to avoid the effect of excessive heat stress.

Outdoor workers are exposed to excessive heat stress, particularly in hot seasons, a trend that is expected to increase as a result of climate change.

This will reduce the capability of physical labour and eventually cause economic loss.

Shifting working time earlier in the morning, when it is cooler than during midday, can be an effective way to reduce the effect of heat stress. However, the plausibility and efficacy of such an intervention has not been quantitatively assessed on a global scale.

A research team led by Jun’ya Takakura, a researcher at the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Japan, investigated whether shifting work times can offset the economic impacts of labour capacity reduction due to climate change.

The researchers used a new method to estimate the heat exposure index, and calculated the required amount of time shift necessary to keep the current level of labour capacity in the future.

The results showed that although a time shift was effective to reduce the effect of heat stress, the required amount of change in working times was not realistic.

The expected start time for outdoor workers would be well before dawn unless stringent climate-change mitigation was achieved.

Under the highest greenhouse-gas emission scenario, the required shift globally was 5.7 (4.0–6.1) hours on average by the end of this century.

The current social system would not allow such a drastic working time shift to come into practice, according to the study’s authors. It is also known that shifting working time can cause other harmful effects such as circadian rhythm disorders.

The research team also conducted an economic simulation, and found that residual damage due to labour capacity reduction would be 1.6 per cent of global total GDP if the time shift is limited to a realistic range of up to three hours.” Refer www.industrialcareers.com.au for further details.

“Questions about whether much has changed after inquiries into mining processes“- Joanne McCarthy writes in the Newcastle Herald 20th November 2018 “REBECCA Connor’s allegations against named Department of Planning employees dealing with NSW mining applications are serious and disturbing, particularly in a state and a region that experienced years of tumultuous mining-related corruption inquiries and their consequences. Her allegations are outlined in emails in late 2017 and early 2018 to more senior staff, in a brief reference that forms part of a March investigation report into allegations against her, and in her responses to those allegations.

She was sacked for misconduct, although four of the five initial allegations against her were not sustained, and a further two – including that she failed to report a male friend’s emailed naked photo – were added to the allegations after her department computer was searched following her suspension. On the face of it Ms Connor was sacked for matters considerably less serious than the allegations she had raised against others. The Department of Planning’s speedy resolution of her unfair dismissal case with a settlement that allowed Ms Connor to resign and receive a financial payout headed off a court hearing that at the very least would have aired her allegations in public. This quite probably would have included the naming of department staff.

An email between department governance managers after Ms Connor reported arrangements for a staff farewell – including invitations to mining industry representatives and requests for them to send money to a department employee’s personal credit card – provides strong proof of what department critics have been saying for too long about NSW Government “regulatory capture” over mining. A manager confirms the credit card issue “is indicative of the conflict of interest and personal relationships that continue to exist between current employees… and the mining industry, especially mining agents, and the lack of understanding of the actual and perceived conflicts”.

In 2013 the Independent Commission Against Corruption concluded the “policy and regulatory environment in NSW for the release and allocation of coal exploration licenses is conducive to corruption”, with “weak processes” and a lack of transparency. Five years later it’s not unreasonable to ask if much has changed.”

Key snippets from Kaldas Review of Planning SystemWarwick Giblin, Oz Environmental has sent these comments in to share with delegates (yellow emphasis is Warwick’s on Kaldas comments). A copy of the full report is on the DPE site www.planning.nsw.gov.au.

Some of the Recommendations:

  1. That the DPE consider undertaking an audit of all infrastructure contributions and spending of same in NSW to enable evidence-based decision-making on the collection and monitoring of those contributions.
  2. That the DPE update the Practice Note for Voluntary Planning Agreements to ensure consistency and transparency. To ensure Councils consider the Practice Note when negotiating or preparing a Voluntary Planning Agreement, the Minister consider issuing a Ministerial Direction requiring Councils to have regard to the Practice Note.
  3. The updated Voluntary Planning Agreement framework should also include requirements for reporting and auditing where the funds are being allocated. This will further ensure transparency, compliance and accountability.
  4. The Chair of the Independent Planning Commission continue to liaise with the Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment to enshrine and clarify the independence of the Commission and its staff. The Secretary and the Chair should consider a contemporary Memorandum of Understanding to achieve that objective.
  5. The DPE establish an Ethics Unit, similar to the United Nations Ethics Divisions, which reports directly to the Secretary of the Department.
  6. While noting that some interagency forums exist, that the DPE give consideration to the establishment of a regular quarterly forum for CEOs as a basis for strategic issues and policy discussions of planning related issues.

Commentary in the Document Report:

  1. I note that The Minister for Local Government has publicly released the soon to be prescribed 2018 Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW.58 Once prescribed, the new code and associated procedures will apply to more than 45,000 staff and nearly 1,300 Councillors at 128 local councils across NSW, to provide a robust framework for ethics, accountability and transparency in NSW. The new Model Code of Conduct introduces strict new requirements including:
  • Banning Councillors from accepting gifts valued at more than $50;
  • Mandatory reporting of all gifts regardless of value in the Council gift register;
  • Councillors with a pecuniary interest cannot access Council information about the matter;
  • Suspensions for pecuniary interest breaches will count towards the “three strikes and you’re out” scheme introduced in 2015 where Councillors face automatic disqualification when they are suspended three times for misconduct;
  • Councillors must declare new interests more regularly in official returns of interest lodged with their council;
  • Councillors must declare in official returns of interest if they are a property developer;
  • New standards relating to discrimination and harassment, bullying, work health and safety, behavior at meetings, use of social media, access to information and maintenance of Council records.
  1. I am advised that a new Regulation will shortly give effect to the updated code. After the new code and procedures are prescribed, councils across NSW will have six months to adopt a Code of Conduct and associated procedures that meet the new requirements.

Independent Planning Commission – secretariat support

  1. The Independent Planning Commission (IPC) of NSW was established as a standalone, independent agency on 1 March 2018.
  2. The IPC Secretariat provides professional and technical support to the Commission and its members. While the IPC is separate from the Department, the secretariat staff are in fact Department of Planning and Environment employees. This has been raised as an issue that impacts on the independence, both real and perceived, of the IPC.
  3. Staff employed by the IPC are employed by the Department and therefore, at some stage, may be expected to return to their home agency. This may create issues for staff, for example, in situations where the Commission is critical of the Department. Part of the role of professional staff at the IPC is to critically review the recommendations and reports prepared by the Department of Planning and Environment. This can put staff at the IPC in a difficult position, as they may not feel completely comfortable in providing frank and fearless advice to a Department which they may not feel they are completely independent from.
  4. 41. Stakeholders noted that the IPC does not have its own resources and instead relies heavily on the Department to facilitate numerous key functions, potentially impacting their independence. Although IPC can engage its own experts, stakeholders commented that ‘they rarely do so, and they rely on the Department for summary reports’. Some stakeholders concluded that the community considers the IPC to be somewhat dependent on the Department, creating a culture that facilitates real or perceived conflicts of interest.
  5. I am of the view that it is critical to ensure the independence of the IPC, both real and perceived. For this reason, I have recommended that the Chair of the IPC liaise with the Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment to clarify the independence of the Commission and its staff. The Secretary and the Chair should consider entering into a contemporary Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to achieve that objective.

Modification of consents

  1. After a development application has been granted, the consent authority may consider a modification to the original development approval.85 minor error, mis-description or miscalculation,”Some stakeholders suggested that all minor modifications, such as those involving “86 or with minimal environmental impact,87 should be considered by Council (or the equivalent consent authority). They suggest that more complex modifications which significantly differ from the original application should be considered by the IHAP.  
  2. To approve a modification to a DA, the legislation requires that the consent authority (or the Court on appeal) must be satisfied that the development to which the consent as modified relates is substantially the same development as the development for which consent was originally granted and before that consent as originally granted was modified (if at all).88  
  3. Many of the stakeholders I met with raised the issue of modifications as a corruption risk. Conversely, others raised the issue of obtaining modifications as being too difficult. Some suggested there should be a “presumption against approval if significant modifications are applied for.”

 Ethics Unit

  1. I can see the benefit of a similar structure within the NSW planning system. Unlike the role of the Manager, Ethics and Integrity, the Ethics Unit would not take or investigate specific complaints against the conduct of Department staff. Rather, the unit’s aim would be to provide pre-emptive advice on corruption risks within the system. The unit could also consider issues of perceived or actual conflicts of interest and provide advice or recommendations on whether a conflict exists and give advice to mitigate or manage conflicts. The unit would systematically and regularly inspect codes of practice and existing frameworks to ensure compliance. It would also provide an opportunity to ensure the Department is aligned with the NSW Public Service Ethical Framework which suggests that “Agencies need to assess their current systems, policies, work practices, procedures and employee behaviours to ensure they align with the objective, values and principles of the Ethical Framework”.91 
  2. I have considered whether this unit should be located within the Department, or with an external body. My experience with the UN, has illustrated that an Ethics Division can form a strong educative role and provide invaluable advice and guidance to those involved in the system. However, it is also important that there the unit has an appropriate level of independence. I note that under sections 25 and 30 of the Government Sector Employment Act 2013, Department Secretaries and Agency Heads are appropriately responsible for the general conduct and management of their Department or Agency in accordance with the core values of the Ethical Framework. I am therefore of the view that it is appropriate for the Ethics Unit to be established within the Office of the Secretary within the Department of Planning and Environment, reporting directly to the Secretary. To ensure Department cooperation with the unit, it is recommended that the unit be led by an appropriately senior person, for example, at the Executive Director level. It would be, in essence, an evolution of the recent initiative establishing the position of Manager of Ethics.

Planning System Cooperation

  1. My Terms of Reference require me to “consider the interactions between the NSW planning system’s governance and agencies, other government agencies, and other levels of government”. It has become clear from my consultation with several stakeholders and industry groups that engagement is lacking between the DPE and other critical departments. There does not appear to be a regular systematic forum for agencies to meet and share ideas and learnings. While noting that some interagency forums exist, I am of the view that there could be regular quarterly forums between senior representatives from the Department and related government agencies at both a state and local level.
  2. Such regular engagement between agencies would assist in streamlining the concurrence approvals, as mentioned in the previous chapter, as well as contributing significantly in knowledge sharing and cooperation between all sectors of the NSW planning System.

Creating a positive planning culture

  1. I note there has been a significant effort led by the Secretary in relation to enhancing the culture and accessibility of the Department, and I recommend that these efforts are continued and supported.  
  2. A key focus of the proposed 2013 reforms was to make the planning system in NSW “simpler, more certain, more strategic and performance based, working within a positive planning culture. Decision making under the new system will be transparent and accessible, with people, businesses and organisations having the choice to be fully engaged in the decisions  

The White Paper made several recommendations to improve the culture with the planning system, including “monitoring and reporting on the actions for culture change and lessons learnt on an annual basis, to provide a report card on the health of the culture of the NSW planning system”. I consider this to be an excellent idea. I am of the view it could be a function undertaken by the new Ethics Unit that I have recommended above, if established”.

 We wish you all a Happy & Prosperous New Year to you from the Executive of MERC.

Contact

If you have any queries in relation to this newsletter please do not hesitate to contact the Chair or the Executive Officer to see how we can assist you in your busy role as a Council delegate to the Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils.

Our contacts are:- Chair, Clr Peter Shinton, by email peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservice.com.au or info@miningrelatedCouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

 

Greg Lamont                                                                                     Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                                               Chair

MERC Newsletter – Nov 2018

Introduction

Delegates, here is the November 2018 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.

Wind Farming & Energy Workshop 8th November 2018 held in Crookwell

The Wind Farming workshop was held on Thursday 8th November 2018 in Crookwell, commencing at 1.00pm to 4.35pm, with a variety of speakers from Councils, Government etc invited to speak about how Councils can better manage wind energy developments more effectively with some excellent examples. It was well received by all in attendance.

Those speakers that provided presentations by email have been distributed to delegates and Clr Hasler’s workshop notes on the workshop have also been circulated. The speakers have been thanked for their time and effort to enlighten delegates on wind farming developments.

DPE has been contacted about the DPE Executive not attending & it is being investigated.

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

The working party (Cr Sue Moore, Cr Owen Hasler, Steve Loane and Greg Lamont) met on 22nd August 2018 in Sydney with the DPE (Alison Frame, Felicity Greenway and Steven Barry and the NSW Minerals Council (Steve Galliee and Claire Doherty) for an hour to discuss areas of agreement and the way forward. The meeting was very constructive.

The aim of the steering committee is to go over the areas not in agreement and determine a path forward to get agreement, so the Guidelines can be finalised and adopted by delegates at our Annual General Meeting in November 2018. NSW Minerals Council are also keen to have these Guidelines finalised as soon as possible but needed agreement of the issues confirmed (DA Schematic, Roads Calculator and need for a dispute resolution provision determined up front) to take back to their Executive on 20th September 2018 to justify their investment in the project and any further involvement.

Current position is that the DPE have confirmed that Stephen Free will chair the Steering Committee and it is hoped a meeting will be held before the end of the year (depending on Chair) to establish protocols, etc. However it looks like first meeting to be held in Sydney on 15th February 2019 to fit in with the Executive Chair of the NSW Minerals Council’s attendance who were not available until after Xmas. The Chair was not available in January!

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

The last meeting for RIAP was held on 6th September 2018 where 35 projects have been received for consideration with $190m value of projects for shortlisting, to allocate $50m against the new criteria. A shortlist has been agreed on and awaiting clarification of some projects by Infrastructure NSW before RIAP is called for a meeting again for the adoption of a final list of approved projects to be considered by Cabinet later in the year.

Those that were good mining related projects but not shortlisted for not meeting the criteria despite the changes to the criteria, are going to be directed towards other funding programs if eligible and there were other projects that were simply not eligible and missed out altogether.The next meeting to be held in Sydney on 24th January 2019.

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 2019, it is not likely that a further meeting will be held until after the elcetions 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 NSW Parliament House in Jubilee Room, awaiting confirmation, otherwise, given Parliament not sitting we could use Club York, the rates are reasonable.

The May meeting is to be held in Forbes who are working on dates, in the NSW Parliament in August (dates to be confirmed) and awaiting a response from Mid Coast Council who are also working on dates regarding November for 2019 meetings.

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

Membership Campaign

Queanbeyan – Palerang, Yass Valley and Upper Lachlan Shire Councils attended the wind farming workshop in view of their wind farming developments. They were all going back to report to their Councils on the merits of joining MERC and it is hoped they do. Still awaiting Balranald and Narrandera Shire Councils and some of the invited workshop wind farming Councils, to respond.

The Executive Officer has approached Country Mayors Association to present to them in March and has still to send the current proposal pro forma to delegates to review and provide input and suggestions to the Executive Officer on the content, to entice further interest. Membership discussions have commenced with Mayor of Muswellbrook and Upper Lachlan Shire Council is to consider membership at the Council meeting on 20th December 2018..

The Association at its May meeting 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.

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. More later.

Project Working Party

The working party is currently reviewing the MERC CSG Policy in relation to the NSW Gas Plan; they have reviewed and shortlisted the existing panel of consultants; prepared a Skills Matrix in member Councils for renewable energy, mining and other specialised skill sets that could be accessed by members to assist with resource sharing, etc. They will be presented to delegates at the February 8 2019 meeting..

Parliamentary Inquiry into Impacts of Mining on Regional Businesses 

Chair Barnaby Joyce presented the findings of the Inquiry to House of Representatives 3rd December and as MERC presented and made a submission the following has been received: “Thank you for making a submission to the Inquiry into how mining companies can support businesses in regional economies. The Inquiry has now concluded and the report was tabled in the House of Representatives today, 3 December 2018.

The report is available on the Committee’s website: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Industry_Innovation_Science_and_Resources/MiningSector/Report

The Committee’s media release is also attached for your information.


03 Dec 2018 3:40 PM AEST – A fairer share for mining towns

The Industry, Innovation, Science and Resources Committee today tabled the report for its mining inquiry, entitled Keep it in the regions: Mining and resources industry support for businesses in regional economies.

A key issue during the inquiry was the terms of payment offered by mining companies to their suppliers and contractors in regional areas.  The Committee is pleased to be able to announce that, since the inquiry was launched, resource companies Anglo American and Peabody have decided to offer payment terms of 30 days or better to all Australian small and medium sized enterprises.

In addition, Australia’s biggest mining company, BHP submitted that it has now changed its payment terms policy to provide terms of 30 days or better to all locally-based supplier businesses – regardless of size. ‘This change will benefit up to 700 local businesses around Australia,’ said Committee Chair, the Hon Barnaby Joyce MP.

‘Mining companies have essentially been using regional businesses as a bank,’ Mr Joyce said, ‘It’s time for this practice to stop. Our Nation has an obligation to make sure that in the region where the wealth is extracted, the greatest benefit goes back to the people who live in the same area’.

Deputy Chair, Mr Luke Gosling OAM MP, agreed, saying, ‘The Committee calls on all mining companies operating in Australia to provide fair payment terms to regional businesses.’ ‘If the industry does not act, the Committee is recommending the Government revisit legislating maximum payment terms,’ Mr Gosling added. 

The Committee’s report also makes recommendations aimed at increasing local procurement by mining and resources companies, addressing gaps in regional areas around skills, training and apprenticeships, and building innovation through the mining equipment, technology and services (METS)  sector.

Other key issues for the inquiry were the impacts of FIFO work practices and the mining industry’s interactions with landholders. ‘If you look back at the history, mining companies used to build whole towns – Murrumba and Dysart for example. Now they prefer to fly their workers in and out and do the bare minimum for the nearby towns. Benefits from mining should be long term, not boom and bust,’ said Mr Joyce.

‘One thing we do know is that communities thrive when their workers and families live in the area and can contribute to the local economy.

The Committee made some recommendations around this issue, but we think industry bodies like the Minerals Council of Australia also have a role to play in making sure their members do the right thing,’ Mr Joyce added. 

A further media release will be distributed to delegates under separate cover as information.

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

Mining companies forced to pay towards rehabilitating abandoned mines”. 10th November 2018. Laura Gartry and Ashleigh Stevenson report that – Queensland resource companies will be required to financially contribute to rehabilitate abandoned mines in Queensland, under new legislation passed in State Parliament.

Instead of a site-by-site approach, companies will be forced to contribute an amount into a pool of money to rehabilitate future abandoned sites if the owner goes bust. Therefore if a new mine fails, the funds will be used to cover the cost to rehabilitate the site, removing liability from taxpayers. Future high-risk projects have to give a surety to the Government to cover their rehabilitation costs. The interest from the billion-dollar fund will be used to make a modest contribution to the overall cost of rehabilitating existing abandoned mines, and towards some research and development.

It is understood will take up to a decade for the interest to accumulate before it can be used for existing mines. The bill for current site rehabilitation in Queensland is estimated to run into the billions of dollars, with the state responsible for maintaining about 120 abandoned or legacy mines.

The laws would require new mines to pay for areas such as voids and waste ponds to be rehabilitated, but existing mines won’t face the same requirements. All mining companies will now require progressive closure and rehabilitation plans for all projects.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad described the new laws as “ground-breaking”. “These reforms strike the right balance for the environment and the resource sector, while ensuring resource companies, not Queensland taxpayers, foot the bill for the rehabilitation of failed mines or stranded assets,” Ms Trad said. “The reforms ensure that mine rehabilitation actually happens in Queensland and we don’t leave a legacy of abandoned mines for future generations, or mines that are in care and maintenance for many decades. Ms Trad said the Government would not amend approvals given to companies under previous policy frameworks. This includes existing mines with “non-use management areas”, which can include pit voids and waste rock which are not required to be rehabilitated. But in the future, non-use management areas will only be approved in very restricted circumstances, where it is found to be in the public interest, as per an independent evaluation.

Lock The Gate campaigner Rick Humphries said as a result, communities will be left with “vast unfilled coal pits and polluted water after mining”. “The mining industry already plans to leave 218 coal pits un-rehabilitated, many of which will drain groundwater permanently and will leave vast, deep scars on the landscape,” he said. “We pushed the Government hard to phase in similar laws that have been in place in the US since the 1970s requiring all pits to be backfilled.”

Head of Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Ian Macfarlane said the industry took comfort in the fact the legislation was not going to be retrospective. “Those mines operating under the current environmental approvals wouldn’t have retrospective conditions apply to them,” he said.

Daily crisis talks between the QRC and the Government over some proposed amendments were facilitated by former Labor minister Stephen Robertson last week. “It was just a case of making sure that the words of the legislation reflected that [no retrospective conditions] … and getting that outcome,” Mr Macfarlane said. Lock the Gate has accused the Government of being “strong armed” by the mining lobby, but the Government maintains the laws were never going to be retrospective. Mr Macfarlane said each company’s contributions to the fund would be made public.

“The amount that a company pays is calculated based on their credit risk and what their credit ratings are, and the size of the rehabilitation bill,” Mr Macfarlane said.

Greens MP Michael Berkman said the laws should have applied retrospectively. “What the Government’s proposed will let every single existing mine in Queensland off the hook effectively,” Mr Berkman said. “Not requiring any of the more than 200 final voids across the state to be dealt with by industry.”Industry estimates it is about $20 billion worth of work, which means Queenslanders are going to be left to foot the bill for all that work & industry will be let off the hook.”

A government planning failureThe Land, 15th November reported that NSW Farmers representative Mitchell Clapham didn’t mince words at the Independent Planning Commission hearing into KEPCO’s proposed coal mine in the Bylong Valley last week. Association conservation resource management committee member Mr Clapham’s frustration was palpable. “The overarching reason we are here today is the complete and abject failure of government planning processes when it comes to extractive industries’ development of state significant projects,” Mr Clapham said. “The fact that this room is packed with both sides at loggerheads is a clear example of the continued failure of these processes. “It is inexcusable to think that it should ever have come to this.”

Mr Clapham said agriculture was not a priority for government when it came to major mining proposals. “We feel it is worth taking the opportunity to point out a number of severe deficiencies with government policies and indeed, quite shocking examples of the abuse of government power in order to achieve a favourable outcome for resource development.” He said there was a real lack of regulatory teeth when it came to aquifer interference. In 2008, in an attempt to recognise and safeguard the contribution of agriculture to NSW, the rural lands State Environmental Planning Policy had been introduced, said Mr Clapham. He said this legislation provided solutions if there existed political will to protect agricultural land, as it included the notion of “state significant agricultural land”. He said to date no land has been declared under the SEPP as having state significance.

“One would argue however, the intention to protect these lands was always there, but has been greatly overshadowed by the pursuit of mineral resources that lie under these lands at any and all costs.” Mr Clapham said NSW Farmers wasn’t anti-mining, but was increasingly frustrated and disillusioned with government policy that fails to recognise and protect the importance of key agricultural land. He said water issues, dust and noise impacts, visual impacts and significant impacts to property values were among the issues facing the range of vibrant agricultural industries in the Bylong Valley.

“Agriculture is a sustainable industry that will be here forever, it is not a once-only, boom then bust with a footprint that survives a millennia. It’s time the government got real about protecting agriculture.”

Bylong Valley beef producer, John Weaver of the family owned Timnath Pty Ltd, Budden, says alluvium water availability is in jeopardy if the proposed KEPCO coal mine is approved. His manager of “Budden” at the foot of the range on the Rylstone end of the valley for 25 years, Rick Cook, has experienced firsthand how ground water in the Growee River behaves. Mr Weaver said when water was pumped from underground at “Budden”, the neighbours across the road at “Wigelmar” cannot pump water and vice versa.

“In Rick’s experience the Growee River aquifer is highly reactive to any changes in the volume of water in the alluvium,” Mr Weaver said. ”We are very concerned if the Bylong Coal Project is approved and the mine pumps water from the alluvium around Bylong it will be like pulling the plug in a bath. The Growee River aquifer will be drained, leaving us with no water for our breeding herd and no way of supplying water before they start to die in as little as two days.”

The Budden breeding herd of 350 commercial Angus has been developed for more than 40 years by selective breeding and Mr Weaver said, cannot be replaced by money. “If we start to lose our water, we don’t want compensation,” Mr Weaver said. “We want KEPCO to guarantee our water and guarantee that if we lose our water or its availability starts to decline, then KEPCO must replace it within 48 hours of the loss or reduction being identified. “If not, the Bylong Coal Project must not be approved.” Full story is on this link: https://www.theland.com.au/story/5754804/a-govt-planning-failure/?src=rss

Questions about whether much has changed after inquiries into mining processes” Joanne McCarthy, Newcastle Herald November 20, 2018 writes: REBECCA Connor’s allegations against named Department of Planning employees dealing with NSW mining applications are serious and disturbing, particularly in a state and a region that experienced years of tumultuous mining-related corruption inquiries and their consequences. Her allegations are outlined in emails in late 2017 and early 2018 to more senior staff, in a brief reference that forms part of a March investigation report into allegations against her, and in her responses to those allegations.

She was sacked for misconduct, although four of the five initial allegations against her were not sustained, and a further two – including that she failed to report a male friend’s emailed naked photo – were added to the allegations after her department computer was searched following her suspension.

On the face of it Ms Connor was sacked for matters considerably less serious than the allegations she had raised against others. The Department of Planning’s speedy resolution of her unfair dismissal case with a settlement that allowed Ms Connor to resign and receive a financial payout headed off a court hearing that at the very least would have aired her allegations in public. This quite probably would have included the naming of department staff.

An email between department governance managers after Ms Connor reported arrangements for a staff farewell – including invitations to mining industry representatives and requests for them to send money to a department employee’s personal credit card – provides strong proof of what department critics have been saying for too long about NSW Government “regulatory capture” over mining.

A manager confirms the credit card issue “is indicative of the conflict of interest and personal relationships that continue to exist between current employees… and the mining industry, especially mining agents, and the lack of understanding of the actual and perceived conflicts”.

In 2013 the Independent Commission Against Corruption concluded the “policy and regulatory environment in NSW for the release and allocation of coal exploration licenses is conducive to corruption”, with “weak processes” and a lack of transparency. Five years later it’s not unreasonable to ask if much has changed”.

“Mining in Dubbo – in the box seat”  from the Australian Mining Review, Elizabeth Fabri writes in the November edition: ‘Dubbo businesses already supply goods and services to a umber of mining operations around the region and the promise of new mines is set to increase opportunities. Dubbo mayor Ben Shields said mining was agrowth industry in western NSW with businesses expanding and taking advantage of the city’s strategic location and junction for rail, road and air freight services. 

He said ‘”From heavy vehicle supplies and services, to civil construction consultancies and mining engineering specialist services to logistics and transport, Dubbo is integrally linked in the mining supply chain”

Mining projects that were to benefit Dubbo were Alkane Resources rare earths mine at Toongi, the underground expansion of the Tomingley gold mine and the Clean TeQ’s Sunrise cobalt and nickel mine project near Fifield. Also the Dubbo community are set to benfit from a pending decsion to declare Dubbo a “fossicking district” for the samll scale search for mineral and gemstones in land holder approved areas. Historically, gold, common opal, agate, chalcedony and fossils have been found in the Dubbo area. Further details are in the A3 size one page article www.australianminingreview.com.au

“Independent Planning Commission (IPC) Public Meeting Vickery Extension Project”  Cr Mark Hall, Lachlan Shire Council, has suggested if any delegates are in the vicinity of Gunnedah on 18th December 2018 at 9am to attend the IPC public hearing on the proposed Coal Mine extension. Address is the Smithurst Theatre, Conadilly Street, Gunnedah, next to the Town Hall. .Expressions of Interest to speak must be in by 13th December 2018 by email to ipcn@ipcn.nsw.gov.au.

Contact

If you have any queries in relation to this newsletter please do not hesitate to contact the Chair or the Executive Officer to see how we can assist you in your busy role as a Council delegate to the Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils.

Our contacts are:- Chair, Clr Peter Shinton, by email peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservice.com.au or info@miningrelatedCouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

 

Greg Lamont                                                                Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                       Chair

 

 

MERC Newsletter – October 2018

Introduction

Delegates, here is the October 2018 MERC Newsletter, albeit later than usual due to the meetings and wind farming workshop held in Crookwell 7/9th November and travel time spent by the author to get to/from the lovely Upper Lachlan Shire Council area from Tamworth.

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.

Wind Farming & Energy Workshop 8th November 2018 held in Crookwell

The Wind Farming workshop was held on Thursday 8th November 2018 in Crookwell,  commencing at 1.00pm to 4.35pm, with a variety of speakers from Councils, Government etc invited to speak about how Councils can better manage wind energy developments more effectively with some excellent examples. It was well received by all in attendance.

The speakers were (in order):-

  • Andrew Bray (National Wind Alliance Coordinator) who addressed delegates on the work of the Alliance, discussed his report Building Stronger Communities: Wind’s growing role in Regional Australia (where the focus is on the industry’s relationship with the broader community, it does include some discussion of benefits for Councils, Section 355 committees and VPAs. He says “Councils and wind developers have reached a fairly common understanding of what wind farm VPAs look like these days”), he also spoke about the Best Practice Charter for Renewable Energy Developments provided by the Clean Energy Council which he recommended Councils obtain and experiences.
  • Charlie Prell, former Councillor Upper Lachlan Shire Council, an associate of the Australian Wind Alliance, a local farmer outlined his experiences with wind turbines near his property and the benefits and issues associated with Councils and the community dealing with them;
  • Chris Berry, Director Planning Services, Yass Valley Council (they held their own in house workshop on wind farming earlier this year), he is a member of the Canberra Joint Organisation of Councils (representing professional planners in the region) and the DPE Regional Advisory Forum, spoke on the Yass Valley Councils experience with Windfarms – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly he called his paper;
  • John Bell, Upper Lachlan Shire Council General Manager, spoke on the Councils wind farming development experiences, benefits and pitfalls;
  • In the absence of David Kitto (DPE – Executive Director Resource Assessments & Business Systems), Phillipa Duncan (Team Leader development Assessments) and accompanied by Anna Ferguson (Policy Officer) from the DPE, provided an update on planning matters and unfortunately whilst Phillipa did a great job, she was not sufficiently informed at a higher level to answer some of the issues delegates raised that David would have been able to, which was disappointing
  • Finally, Dr Juan Castilla- Pho, University of Wollongong, PhD, MEngSc, BEng (Hons) & Research Fellow, briefly spoke on the Participatory Systems Collaborative Modelling approach they had developed which could be used to better manage conflict in a community when a State Significant or other mining or renewable development such as a wind or solar farm or mine is approved by the NSW Government and there is community concern. He elaborated on the model to delegates the next day who were very impressed with the concept and resolved that the Executive Committee pursue it.

John Bell (General Manager, Upper Lachlan Shire Council), Andrew Warren (Tourism Manager) and staff of Upper Lachlan Shire Council, Crookwell provided a lot of assistance which contributed to the success of the workshop and meetings. Hopefully they will become members of MERC in due course. Where provided, copies of the presentations will be distributed to delegates.

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

The working party (Cr Sue Moore, Cr Owen Hasler, Steve Loane and Greg Lamont) met on 22nd August 2018 in Sydney with the DPE (Alison Frame, Felicity Greenway and Steven Barry and the NSW Minerals Council (Steve Galliee and Claire Doherty) for an hour to discuss areas of agreement and the way forward. The meeting was very constructive.

The aim of the steering committee is to go over the areas not in agreement and determine a path forward to get agreement, so the Guidelines can be finalised and adopted by delegates at our Annual General Meeting in November 2018. NSW Minerals Council are also keen to have these Guidelines finalised as soon as possible but needed agreement of the issues confirmed (DA Schematic, Roads Calculator and need for a dispute resolution provision determined up front) to take back to their Executive on 20th September 2018 to justify their investment in the project and any further involvement.

Current position is that the DPE have confirmed that Stephen Free will chair the Steering Committee and it is hoped a meeting will be held before the end of the year (depending on Chair) to establish protocols, etc.The profiles for candidates as Chair were as follows:

The NSWMC and MERC working parties were canvassed and MERC chose Stern, Free, Mitchelmore in that order, NSWMC went the other way Mitchelmore, Free and Stern, so the DPE compromised and chose Free, the middle choice for both, ……….democracy in action!

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

The last meeting for RIAP was held on 6th September 2018 where 35 projects have been received for consideration with $190m value of projects for shortlisting, to allocate $50m against the new criteria. A shortlist has been agreed on and awaiting clarification of some projects by Infrastructure NSW before RIAP is called for a meeting again for the adoption of a final list of approved projects to be considered by Cabinet later in the year.

Those that were good mining related projects but not shortlisted for not meeting the criteria despite the changes to the criteria, are going to be directed towards other funding programs if eligible and there were other projects that were simply not eligible and missed out altogether. The Executive Officer is awaiting the email for the setting of the next meeting, hopefully this occurs before Christmas for round 6.

Website

There is a new part on website where only delegates can access minutes by a “log in” feature with the Executive Officer to canvass members to nominate a person from each Council to do this, if needed, there are still a few Councils that have not yet responded so the Executive Officer will proceed to set up the registration with the website manager.

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.

Next Meetings of Association for 2019

At this stage, we will have our next meetings in Sydney in February and August, then Forbes in May and hopefully MidCoast (Taree, Forster or Gloucester?, the Executive Officer to talk with the Deputy Mayor who is the delegate to MERC) are interested for November 2019, as new members, if not members will be canvassed for their interest in hosting.

Dates will be confirmed by the Executive in due course, but by sticking with the pattern of second Thursday/Friday in the aforementioned months and bookings at Parliament House put aside Thursday 7th (for Executive Committee) and Friday 8th February 2019 as next meeting dates in Sydney.

Annual General Meeting – Election of Executive Committee, Chair and Deputy Chairs

The results of the MERC Executive Committee elections held on 9th November 2018 were: –

  • Chair – Cr Peter Shinton, Warrumbungle Shire Council, elected unopposed as Chair;
  • Deputy Chairs – there were three nominations for the two Deputy Chair positions and elected were Cr Sue Moore, Singleton Council and Cr Lilliane Brady OAM, Cobar Shire Council with Cr James Nolan, Broken Hill City Council, missing out;
  • Executive Committee – there were three nominations for the Executive Committee to fill the three positions resulting in the election of Cr James Nolan, Cr Melanie Dagg (Cessnock City Council) and Cr Owen Hasler (Gunnedah Shire Council). Cr Michael Banasik (Wollondilly Shire Council), due to work commitments in 2018/19, did not stand for the Executive Committee.

Membership Campaign

Queanbeyan – Palerang, Yass Valley and Upper Lachlan Shire Councils attended the wind farming workshop in view of their wind farming developments. They were all going back to report to their Councils on the merits of joining MERC and it is hoped they do. Still awaiting Balranald and Narrandera Shire Councils and some of the invited workshop wind farming Councils, to respond.

The Executive Officer is to approach Country Mayors Association to present to them and send the current proposal pro forma to delegates to review and provide input and suggestions to the Executive Officer on the content, to entice interest.

In discussions with prominent people in Local Government, the critical points of difference and selling points of our Association are that:

  • MERC is specific on its issues;
  • MERC has seen there is a need to be the voice for energy for Councils;
  • MERC is not hampered by getting involved with the broader whole of state matters;
  • MERC already has a seat at the table – its advice is sought by the government;
  • MERC have experienced delegates on government working groups representing the members voices;
  • MERC are not political and don’t have any collaborative problems within our group of dedicated delegates!

Why wouldn’t a Council join or or why would they leave, you have to ask the question are they truly representing their constituents under the Local Government Act when mining and energy issues are affecting their communities, are the legislated planning processes and Joint Organisations of Councils adequate to do this? Keep talking to your neighbours about the benefits of being a member of MERC.

The Association at its May meeting 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.

Membership discussions will be pursued with Mayors of Muswellbrook and Lake Macquarie Councils by the Executive as well.

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 extremly impressed and can see its application in all forms of consultation with the community and have resolved that the Execuitive 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. More later.

Project Working Party

The working party is working with the Executive Officer and Chair to review the current MERC CSG Policy in relation to the NSW Gas Plan; the existing panel of consultants; prepare a survey of member Councils for renewable energy, mining and other specialised skill sets that could be accessed by members to assist with resource sharing, etc. Ron Zwicker has done some excellent preliminary work on the projects already. Thanks Ron.

Project updates:-

Skills Matrix – Still have some Councils to complete a “skills survey” on their staff expertise to be compiled as a resource sharing iniitiative, only 12 received to date, balance to be followed up by Executive Officer;

Environmental Consultants Panel – Letters have been sent to the existing panel of consultants that responded to the formal Expression of Interest process in 2014/15 seeking their response/interest to new criteria that are relevant to members in this day and age, list completed and being assessed by the working party for report to delegates in February.

CSG Policy Review – Preliminary work has commenced on the current Coal Seam Gas Policy and NSW Gas Plan by the working party for report to the February meeting.

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

 The recent Federal Government House of Representatives Inquiry into the Impacts of Mining on Regional Economies was conducted and delegates briefly discussed the submissions Details from all states of Australia can be seen on the link here

There were 56 submissions, including some confidential, others from Regional Councils and entities throughout Australia. The main issues raised consistently in all submissions from the non miners were:- global/corporate procurement; cashflow terms of payment; lack of opportunities for local businesses and local people (if they not already trained and equiped to get jobs and contracts) to be assisted/educated to be potential contractors and employees in order to keep the towns and villages vibrant and occupied; changes to the Royalties for Regions program – put the money back into the regional infrastructure; analysis of the cumultative effects of mining on communities and businesses; better use of TAFE/local schools to train youth to work locally so they remain in the regions so towns don’t die, etc.

There were a lot of excellent recommendations and it will be interesting to see where this Inquiry goes and what it does with them.

Runaway BHP train deliberately derailedInteresting event reported in the news recently about alleged deliberate train derailment, is this a consequence of mechanisation?

See link here

“Green Bank seeks new vehicles” In the SMH, 1ST November 2018, Peter Hannam reports that the nations green investment bank will expand more into pumped hydro and industries such as agriculture and electric vehicles as the surge into renewable energy starts to subside.

This comes about as the banks or firms are becoming more willing to invest in renewables on their own causing a reduction in demand from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (which was set up by the Gillard government and survived the Abbott governments move to have it abolished and the Turnbull governments push to ease the lending constraints it imposed on lenders). Refer www.smh.com.au

“No relief ahead as prices rise”  Cole Latimer writes in the SMH, 31st October 2018 that households and businesses face growing uncertainty over obtaining energy bill relief as wholesale power costs rose by as much as 26% because of the drought, gas prices and policy uncertainty.

Grattan Institute energy director Tony Wood said a number of factors were driving the wholesale price increase since the start of October “Gas is the biggest issue, as its rising price has also set the price for the market” he told the SMH. Mr Wood also said the Australian Energy Market Operator was also concerned about lower water levels in NSW dams that service the Snowy Hydro project. He said “You also have the issue that coal fired power stations have been less reliable”

Rating House Moody’s Investor Service said ongoing policy uncertainty and government threats directed at the energy sector has hindered future investment in the renewables market, which added to higher prices. “the lack of a stable and aligned policy ….is a hindrance to investment” Moody’s said. “As policy changes could affect energy prices, consumers have shown reluctance in entering into the long term, fixed price power purchase agreements (PPA’s) typically used to fund new renewable projects” Refer www.smh.com.au

‘Make it happen” In the Hunter Valley Coal Face October – November edition, Cr Sue Moore, Mayor Singleton Council writes “ If the State Government’s premise for the Resources for Regions is indeed to deliver local infrastructure to support mining communities, then it will be impossible to ignore Singleton Council’s applications under the current round” They are seeking half of the cost of two projects with a combined total of $13m plus to upgrade the Singleton CBD and transport routes to get 9,000 workers living outside the Council area and business to/from the 17 mines in the LGA safely.

“There can be no value put on the peace of mind for worker’s families that will come from knowing the roads their loved ones are driving on are the best possible standard. Because, more important than the route to work, is the drive home to the family again” Cr Moore said. Further details can be found at www.thecoalface.com.au

Contact

If you have any queries in relation to this newsletter please do not hesitate to contact the Chair or the Executive Officer to see how we can assist you in your busy role as a Council delegate to the Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils.

Our contacts are:- Chair, Clr Peter Shinton, by email peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservice.com.au or info@miningrelatedCouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

 

Greg Lamont                                                                                     Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                                               Chair

MERC Newsletter – September 2018

Introduction

Delegates, here is the September 2018 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.

Wind Farming & Energy Workshop 8th November 2018 held in Crookwell

The Wind Farming workshop will be held on Thursday 8th November 2018 in Crookwell, to commence at 1.00pm with a variety of speakers from Councils, Government etc invited to speak about how Councils can manage wind energy developments more effectively with some excellent examples, with the focus on wind farming and renewable energy generally.

Speakers confirmed to date are:-

  • David Kitto (DPE – Executive Director Resource Assessments & Business Systems), will be presenting in lieu of Mike Young from the DPE;
  • Andrew Bray (National Wind Alliance Coordinator will be speaking on his report Building Stronger Communities: Wind’s growing role in Regional Australia where the focus is on the industry’s relationship with the broader community, it does include some discussion of benefits for Councils, Section 355 committees and VPAs. He says “Councils and wind developers have reached a fairly common understanding of what wind farm VPAs look like these days”.
  • Upper Lachlan Shire Council General Manager – John Bell;
  • Chris Berry, Director Planning Services, Yass Valley Council (they held their own in house workshop on wind farming earlier this year!).

Andrew Warren, Tourism Manager, Upper Lachlan Shire Council, Crookwell is assisting with the organisation of the workshop, dinner, AGM, Executive and Ordinary meetings and activities for the visit to the Upper Lachlan region in November 2018, his help has been very beneficial to date, as you can see with the details in this Newsletter.

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

The working party (Cr Sue Moore, Cr Owen Hasler, Steve Loane and Greg Lamont) met on 22nd August 2018 in Sydney with Warwick Giblin to go over the content of the report and to consider the MERC position. Thereafter the working party, without Warwick, met with the DPE (Alison Frame, Felicity Greenway and Steven Barry and the NSW Minerals Council (Steve Galliee and Claire Doherty) for an hour to discuss areas of agreement and the way forward. The meeting was very constructive.

The aim of the steering committee is to go over the areas not in agreement and determine a path forward to get agreement, so the Guidelines can be finalised and adopted by delegates at our Annual General Meeting in November 2018. NSW Minerals Council are also keen to have these Guidelines finalised as soon as possible but needed agreement of the issues confirmed to take back to their Executive on 20th September 2018 to justify their investment in the project and any further involvement.

Current position is that the working party is awaiting the DPE to advise who is to chair the Steering Committee before the working party convenes. The position from NSW Minerals Council who met on 20th September 2018 is that they accept progress to date with the Roads Calculator methodology, the Schematic for the DA timeline and parties to agree on a mediator (not IPART) upfront which the MERC working party agrees to as well.

Lisa Corbyn Report on the NSW Development Assessment Process

The Lisa Corbyn Report has finally been received after it was completed in August 2017 and delegates will recall Clr Hasler has been requesting its release as a member of the Regional Advisory Forum. At our August meeting one year later, delegates resolved that more stringent steps be taken to have it released using the means the public have to access government information. This approach wasn’t needed as the report arrived beforehand.

The report and the response from the NSW Department of Planning & Environment (DPE) is being analysed by Warwick Giblin & will be submitted to delegates before AGM. Details are outlined on the DPE webpage and can be seen below and accessed by delegates:

Assessment reports independent review

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment commissioned Lisa Corbyn – former head of the NSW Environment Protection Authority and the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water – to conduct an independent review of the Department’s assessment reports for State Significant projects.

Ms Corbyn consulted with a broad range of stakeholders including community groups, industry groups, professional associations, the former Planning Assessment Commission, the NSW Land & Environment Court, the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Energy, and a number of NSW government agencies and local councils.

Stakeholders were asked to provide feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the Department’s assessment reports, and offer suggestions for improvement. Ms Corbyn made 15 recommendations to strengthen and improve the Department’s assessment reports. The Department accepted all 15 recommendations and implementation of reforms and actions to address them is well underway.

Read the Department’s response                       Read the report

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

 A recent meeting for RIAP was held on 6th September where 35 projects have been received for consideration with $190m value of projects for shortlisting, to allocate $50m against the new criteria. A shortlist has been agreed on and awaiting clarification of some projects by Infrastructure NSW before RIAP is called for a meeting again for the adoption of a final list of approved projects to be considered by Cabinet later in the year. Those that were good mining related projects but not shortlisted for not meeting the criteria despite the changes to the criteria, are going to be directed towards other funding programs if eligible and there were other projects that were simply not eligible and missed out altogether.

Website

The website has been altered to reflect our strategic direction. There is a new part where only delegates can access minutes by a “log in” feature with the Executive Officer to canvass members to nominate a person from each Council to do this, if needed. The Executive Officer has submitted a request to members for a nominated person to have access to the log in feature, response to be in by 8th October 2018.

Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)

The next meeting of RAF has been set down for 18th October 2018, Clr Hasler will provide an update to our November meetings.

Next Meetings of Association for 2018 – 8/9th November

We will have our next meeting and a workshop on 8th/9th November 2018 in the Upper Lachlan Shire, at Crookwell, when its warmer.The Executive Committee will meet in the Upper Lachlan Council Chamber at 9am to 12pm on 8th November 2018 after this the Wind Farm workshop (commencing from 1pm to 4pm) will be held in the Crookwell Memorial Hall. The AGM & Ordinary meeting on 9th November 2018 will also be held in the Crookwell Memorial Hall. The dinner will be a la carte on the 8th November 2018 to be held at the Crookwell Services Club. Catering for the meetings will be provided by Leave it to Me!

Accommodation (for the Executive Committee that has to bump in on Wednesday night 7th November 2018 for their meeting next morning from 9am), has been reserved by the Upper Lachlan Council at the Uplands Pastures Motel.

All accomodation options in and around the town of Crookwell are available on the following link, buses to/from the villages may be available or organised, if accomodation is required out of town: –

https://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/country-nsw/goulburn-area/crookwell/accommodation.

Urgent – Please advise the Executive Officer who is attending the meetings in Crookwell 8/9th November 2018 as soon as possible for catering and quorum purposes.

Annual General Meeting – Election of Executive Committee

Giving delegates a “heads up” regarding the Annual General Meeting to be held on 9th November 2018 in Community Hall Crookwell commencing at 9am as it is election time for delegates to vote for nominations for Chair, 2 Deputy Chairs and 3 others as members of the 6 person Executive Committee.

All positions on Executive Committee will be open and subject to nomination. For the information of delegates, if you intend standing for the Executive Committee, the election processes are outlined in the MERC constitution on the web site and the Returning Officer will be the General Manager, Upper Lachlan Shire Council, Mr John Bell. The Executive Officer will be calling for nominations in October as per the constitution. If any potential candidates have any enquiries in regard to the process before the meeting please discuss them with the Executive Officer.

Membership Campaign

The following Councils have been invited to attend the wind farming workshop at Crookwell on 8th November, networking dinner that night plus the meeting next day as observers to see how MERC operates: Inverell, Glen Innes – Severn, Hilltops, Snowy Valleys, Snowy Monaro, Goulburn – Mulwaree, Queanbeyan – Palerang, Yass Valley, Upper Lachlan in view of their wind farming developments.

In discussions with prominent people in Local Government, the critical point of difference and selling points of our Association are that the Association is specific on its issues; has seen there is a need to be the voice for energy for Councils; is not hampered by getting involved with the broader whole of state matters; has a seat at the table; its advice is sought by the government; we have experienced delegates on government working groups representing the members voices; we are not political and don’t have any collaborative problems within our group of dedicated delegates!

Why wouldn’t a Council join or or why would they leave, you have to ask the question are they truly representing their constituents under the Local Government Act when mining and energy issues are affecting their communities, are the legislated planning processes adequate to do this? Keep talking to your neighbours about the benefits of being a member of MERC.

The Association at its May meeting 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. The foray into wind farming in the south will again provide more opportunities to present our case for them to join us. Southern NSW and New England areas will be targeted in due course, like we have with Orana and will with the Upper Lachlan Council neighbouring areas.

Research Fellowship Update

A contact from Wollongong City Council via Cr Tania Brown for the Executive Officer to contact Professor Pascal De Perez has evolved and discussions have taken place on opportunities with the University of Wollongong. A spokesperson (Dr Castilla) will attend the Executive Committee meeting/workshop on 8th November 2018 to discuss MOU, topics, etc.

They seem very interested in the Ph Fellowship program with MERC and already have a relationship with Wollonging City Council and Bathurst City Council in a variety of areas.

 Project Working Party

The Project working party is:- Jason Linnane, General Manager Singleton Council (Chair) the Executive Officer, planning staff that regularly attend MERC meetings in Ron Zwicker, Heather Nicholls, David Henry and Andrew Johns.

The working party is working with the Executive Officer and Chair to review the current MERC CSG Policy in relation to the NSW Gas Plan; the existing panel of consultants; prepare a survey of member Councils for renewable energy, mining and other specialised skill sets that could be accessed by members to assist with resource sharing, etc. Ron Zwicker has done some excellent preliminary work on the projects already.

Projects update:- members have been requested to complete a “skills survey” on their staff expertise to be compiled as a resource sharing initiative, to be back with the Executive Officer by 8th October 2018. Letters have been sent to the existing panel of consultants that responded to the formal Expression of Interest process in 2014 seeking their response/interest to new criteria that are relevant to members in this day and age for consideration by the working party in early October 2018. Preliminary work has commenced on the current Coal Seam Gas Policy and NSW Gas Plan by the working party.

Presentation to Federal Government House of Representatives Inquiry into the Impacts of Mining on Regional Economies

The submissions from various organisations, businesses and indivduals throughout Australia are on the following site for delegates to follow:

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Industry_Innovation_Science_and_Resources/MiningSector/Submissions

There were 56 submissions, including some confidential, others from Regional Councils and entities throughout Australia.The MERC submission included details on case studies at Gunnedah Shire, Dubbo Regional and Singleton Councils and generally across the state.. Cessnock City Council provided a separate submission which is very detailed and makes some very good arguments specific to their situation as a local government area and Gunnedah attended the Inquiry with Deputy Mayor Cr Gae Swain presenting their submission.

The main issues raised consistently in all submissions from the non miners were:- global/corporate procurement; cashflow terms of payment; lack of opportunities for local businesses and local people (if they not already trained and equipped to get jobs and contracts) to be assisted/educated to be potential contractors and employees in order to keep the towns and villages vibrant and occupied; changes to the Royalties for Regions program – put the money back into the regional infrastructure; analysis of the cumulative effects of mining on communities and businesses; better use of TAFE/local schools to train youth to work locally so they remain in the regions so towns don’t die, etc.

There were a lot of excellent recommendations and it will be interesting to see where this Inquiry goes and what it does with them.

Revised Voluntary Land Acquisition & Mitigation Policy (VLAMP)

The Revised Voluntary Land Acquisition & Mitigation Policy (VLAMP) is now released and available for viewing on DPE website, details below.

“The NSW Government’s revised Voluntary Land Acquisition and Mitigation Policy (VLAMP) for State Significant Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industry Developments has now been finalised and is available on the Department of Planning and Environment’s website. It applies to:

  • new applications made after the policy has commenced;
  • existing applications that were not yet determined when the policy commenced; and
  • modification applications that involve increases to the approved dust or noise impacts of a development.

The Department has also released a report summarising the feedback received during the public exhibition of the draft revised VLAMP and how this has informed the final version. We would like to thank everyone who shared their feedback and advice during this process”.

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

Contact

Over 800,000 renters are closer to benefitting from rooftop solar” From the Department of Planning and Environment info@enews.planning.nsw.gov.au site:-“100 residential and commercial tenants taking part in the Clean Energy Knowledge Sharing Initiative will see their annual bills reduce collectively by over $25,000, saving some 130 tonnes of carbon emissions”….. for more details go to the site or see a condensed version below.

“More than 800,000 renters in NSW are a step closer to sharing in the benefits of rooftop solar thanks to a NSW Government initiative backing clean energy projects.  Minister for Resources and Energy Don Harwin said Sun Tenants, a Sydney company that helps renters and property owners enjoy the benefits of solar, has received $33,000 from the NSW Government’s Clean Energy Knowledge Sharing Initiative to install solar panels on 100 residential and commercial rental properties.

“I’m delighted to announce that we are backing Sun Tenants on a pilot project to help people who are renting property join the solar revolution,” said Minister Harwin. “This fantastic project is a real win–win for property investors and tenants and has already been shown to have halved tenants’ energy bills in an earlier pilot scheme. “It’s one of 10 projects we are supporting across the state as part of the NSW Government’s $300,000 Clean Energy Knowledge Sharing Initiative.”

Mr Harwin said “the Government’s investment would leverage an additional $680,000 of private sector investment as well as close to $400,000 project participant and industry–in–kind contributions to help deliver the successful co–funded projects. He said “The NSW Government is also helping 4,500 vulnerable households take control of their energy bills by installing roof top solar under its Home Energy Action Program. “Government relies on strong partnerships with the private sector as part of our transition to a clean, affordable and reliable energy future,” Mr Harwin said.

“The Clean Energy Knowledge Sharing Initiative provides an opportunity for innovators and early adopters to test and trial new clean energy solutions.” Sun Tenants founder Dr Bjorn Sturmberg said the 100 tenants taking part in the project would see their annual bills reduce collectively by more than $25,000. “This pilot will help people save some 130 tonnes of carbon emissions, reducing tenants’ bills and helping property owners increase the value of their investment,” Dr Sturmberg said.

“Sun Tenants incentives owners to install solar by arranging for tenants to pay a little extra rent in exchange for free solar power. Our technology monitors tenants’ solar savings, showing how the savings exceed any increase in rent. “One of the best ways to attract and retain quality tenants is to create shared value, with solar benefiting everyone financially while reducing our impact on the planet.”

Since 2001, there have been 422,662 small solar units installed in NSW, with Census data showing 814,549 renter households state–wide”.

“Barnaby Joyce shines spotlight on where mining wealth goes’ Jamieson Murphy from Northern Daily Leader writes on 4th September 2018.  Mr Joyce’s inquiry in to the relationship between the mining sector and regional businesses was in Tamworth on Tuesday, hearing from local councils and mining companies.  “Every day, dozens of trains burdened with roughly $66-million worth of coal pass through Gunnedah and the Liverpool Plains – New England MP Barnaby Joyce says he wants to see more of that money stay local, rather than being carted off to the capital cities. What is important to me, is the comparative analysis of what is extracted from a district, and the wealth that remains in a district,” Mr Joyce said “There is immense wealth going to other places, and small amounts staying.”

Liverpool Plains Shire mayor Andrew Hope said his council wants to see more of the money generated from the region’s mining sector spent on the “infrastructure pinch points” it created. “The Werris Creek overpass is one of those pinch points, which we’ve got an estimate on the books for $14 million,” Cr Hope said “With trains coming through so often, it cuts off our emergency services, breaks the town in half and it’s about a 40-kilometre round trip to the highway to get around it.”

Mr Joyce said based on evidence heard in the inquiry, the state government made about $6.6m a day in royalties from the region’s mining industry, based on current coal prices. 

“So that Gunnedah overpass is two – day’s worth of royalties.” Mr Joyce said.

Gunnedah Shire deputy mayor Gae Swain told the inquiry she’d like to see a “formalised expectation” with mining companies to contribute to public facilities such as swimming pools and sporting grounds. I think there should be some process where that social and moral responsibility is picked up in to discussions,” Cr Swain said “Large numbers of workers and their families moving in to our shire will lead to further social shortages in facilities such as housing, schooling and childcare.” Refer www.northerndailyleader.com.au

“ASIC urges climate details Article in the Industrial Careers News 24th September 2018 states: “ASIC says Australian companies should do more to disclose risks posed by climate change. The regulator says most ASX 100 companies consider the potential risks posed by climate change, but the practice of disclosing these risks to investors is “considerably fragmented, with information provided to the market in differing forms across a wide range of means of disclosure”. ASIC has published a report on climate risk disclosures by 60 companies in the ASX 300, in 25 recent initial public offering (IPO) prospectuses, and across 15,000 annual reports. Of these 60 companies, about 17 per cent identified climate change as a material risk to their business. The percentage of annual reports of all listed companies that contained climate change-related content fell fallen from 22 per cent in 2011 to 14 per cent in 2017.

“Climate change is a foreseeable risk facing many listed companies in the Australian market in a range of different industries,” ASIC commissioner John Price said. “Directors and officers of listed companies need to understand and continually reassess existing and emerging risks (including climate risk) that may affect the company’s business – for better or for worse.”

Some analysts say Australia’s generic risk disclosure laws for companies should apply to climate change. “There’s a difference between what ASIC says the laws say and what companies are doing,” said Will van de Pol from Market Forces. “It’s clear from this report and our financial research that many Australian companies are not meeting their legal requirements. It means that investors are being left in the dark about the risk to the companies that they own from climate change.” Refer www.industrialcareers.com.au

“Schott fires at PM’s plans” Article in the Industrial Careers News 24th September 2018 states: Energy Security Board chair Kerry Schott has warned the Morrison government against threats to energy companies. Federal energy minister Angus Taylor and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have threatened to call a royal commission or break up energy companies if prices do not move down soon. But Dr Schott says these measures are not likely to be helpful.

“I think what will happen going forward is that the reliability obligation part of the NEG will probably get support. We’ll have to wait for the rest of it. The sad thing is the drop in prices that would have occurred in the wholesale market will be less than it otherwise would [have been],” she said at a recent Infrastructure Partnerships Australia conference.

“And the other sad thing is that while the national government is in the state that it’s in at the moment, there is a flavour of more market intervention than just stepping back and letting the states and the market get on with it. The next planned Council of Australian Governments Energy Council meeting has been cancelled, and reports say a teleconference version will be held in mid-October. The reliability obligation of the NEG could be signed off at a formal meeting in December”. Dr Schott says.

Although the federal government has scrapped carbon emissions targets in the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), the experts say the reliability obligation will be needed before the closure of AGL Energy’s ageing Liddell Power Station in NSW in 2022. Some states are unhappy that the government is slowing progress.

“We continue to get nothing but chaos and confusion about energy policy in Canberra,” Queensland energy minister Anthony Lynham said. “We are on a national electricity network that requires national leadership. This has gone on for too long.”

Dr Schott says she has spoken with Mr Taylor since his appointment three weeks ago. She said he is focused on the ACCC’s recommendations for the government to buy power from new generation projects to support investment, but “he is quite interested in progressing the reliability obligation” though “not necessarily in its current architecture. We just need to be careful we are not doing anything the market was going to do anyway,” she said.

Refer www.industrialcareers.com.au for further details.

 “Gas sector want climate clarity  Another good article of interest in the Industrial Careers News is this: “The gas industry has become the latest to call on the Federal Government to come up with a climate and energy policy. Gas companies and associated industries says that investors need certainty if Australia wants to take advantage of opportunities for developing new gas and renewables projects. As policymakers seek to tackle the energy trilemma and solve a decade-long failure to effectively integrate energy policy and climate policy, ongoing uncertainly prevails in the market,” APA Group executive of transmission Rob Wheals told a recent industry conference.

“Uncertainty affects investment decisions, and ultimately prices and energy reliability for all Australians. And today we are still here. We still don’t have a national energy policy.”

Gas industry advisers and consultants say the industry is not necessarily in conflict with renewables, especially in regard to the Federal Government’s support for the construction of more coal-fired power stations. “The idea of building new coal-fired power stations is in my mind a backward step,” said analyst Martin Wilkes from RISC, which does consultancy work for companies including Santos.

“I think we need to be looking to close off coal from the power generation mix, and rely on something that will be more reactive, and more in keeping with partnering renewables, which is what gas is.”

Deloitte analysis says Australia will probably not be able to switch from coal straight to renewables. “Gas is by far the cleanest of the fossil fuels and it has critical mass in global demand, so it’s easier to accelerate switching from coal to gas in power stations than directly pick up all that demand with renewables,” Deloitte director of consulting, Alan Samuel, said.

Contact

If you have any queries in relation to this newsletter please do not hesitate to contact the Chair or the Executive Officer to see how we can assist you in your busy role as a Council delegate to the Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils.

Our contacts are:- Chair, Clr Peter Shinton, by email peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservice.com.au or info@miningrelatedCouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

 

Greg Lamont                                                                                     Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                                               Chair

MERC NEWSLETTER – August 2018

Introduction

Delegates, here is the August 2018 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.

Wind Farming & Energy Workshop 8th November 2018 held in Crookwell

The Wind Farming workshop will be held on Thursday 8th November 2018 in Crookwell, to commence at 1.00pm with a variety of speakers from Councils, Government etc invited to speak about how Councils can manage wind energy developments more effectively with some excellent examples, with the focus on wind farming and renewable energy generally.

Speakers confirmed to date are:-

  • David Kitto (DPE – Executive Director Resource Assessments & Business Systems), will be presenting in lieu of Mike Young form the DPE;
  • Andrew Bray (National Wind Alliance Coordinator will be speaking on his report Building Stronger Communities: Wind’s growing role in Regional Australia where the focus is on the industry’s relationship with the broader community, it does include some discussion of benefits for Councils, Section 355 committees and VPAs. He says “Councils and wind developers have reached a fairly common understanding of what wind farm VPAs look like these days”.
  • Upper Lachlan Shire Council General Manager – John Bell;
  • Chris Berry, Director Planning Services, Yass Valley Council (they held their own in house workshop on wind farming earlier this year!).

Andrew Warren, Tourism Manager, Upper Lachlan Shire Council, Crookwell is assisting with the organisation of the workshop, dinner, AGM, Executive and Ordinary meetings and activities for the visit to the Upper Lachlan region in November 2018, his help has been very beneficial to date, as you can see with the details in this Newsletter.

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

A copy of the Chris Wilson report on the status of the negotiations with NSW Minerals Council and MERC on VPA’s was finally received and distributed to the Execeutive Committee and working party in August 2018.

The working party (Cr Sue Moore, Cr Owen Hasler, Steve Loane and Greg Lamont) met on 22nd August 2018 in Sydney with Warwick Giblin to go over the content of the report and to consider the MERC position. Thereafter the working party, without Warwick, met with the DPE (Alison Frame, Felicity Greenway and Steven Barry and the NSW Minerals Council (Steve Galliee and Claire Doherty) for an hour to discuss areas of agreement and the way forward. The meeting was very constructive and the following recommendations of the Wilson Report was agreed to at this stage:-

  • Recommendation 1 (a). Not supported.
  • Recommendation 1 (b).The government establish a steering committee to assist the parties in finalising the Local Infrastructure Contributions Calculator (LICC) ie the non road calculator. The committee would be chaired by an independent and appropriately qualified person (senior counsel) with a full understanding of VPA’s and their application. The committee would be supported by DPE and include representatives of both parties;
  • Recommendation 2 (a) – (e). The steering committee will consider the following matters –
    • the merits of each non road calculator (LICC) having regard to governmnet policy on VPA’s, Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and nexus;
    • the merits on MERC’s submission that the Government require each Council to develop a ‘strategy and policy’ position based on it’s preferred ‘cents per tonne’;
    • the reasonableness of applying a 1% contribution based on capital investment value;
    • the ongoing role of IPART which to a large degree will be dependent on the nature of the agreed calculator and the need and ability to verify inputs;
    • whether there is merit in using both the SIA calculator and ‘cents per tonne’ model in tandem to identify and calculate contributions to cover all relevant impacts.
  • Recommendation 2 (f) – (i). Agreed that these items are outside the scope of the existing negotiations but will be considered later noting these are likely to be policy matters for DPE to determine;
  • NSWMC & MERC agreed: Roads Contributions Calculator (RCC) and VPA Framework Negotiation Schematic (without the reference to IPART) reveiwed by the respective  representatives by 20th September 2018 and NSWMC to consider a Hybrid Model for the Non Roads Calculator for the steering committee’s consideration in due course;
  • DPE agreed to do this: To identify a list of candidates (senior counsel) for the independent chair position and distribute to the parties for consideration by 7th September 2018; to set up the steering committee by 21st September 2018 and to cover direct costs of the independent chair and the establishment of the steering committee with committee members to pay own meeting travel costs.

The aim of the steering committee is to go over the areas not in agreement and determine a path forward to get agreement, so the Guidelines can be finalised and adopted by delegates at our Annual General Meeting in November 2018. NSW Minerals Council are also keen to have these Guidelines finalised as soon as possible but needed agreement of the issues confirmed to take back to their Executive on 20th September 2018 to justify their investment in the project and any further involvement.

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

The State Government has made changes to the criteria for Resources for Regions by decreasing the co contribution funding to 25% and including a hardship case provision, if the co contribution cant be met; introducing a Location Quotient (LQ) based on ABS 2016 statistics for mining affected areas and employment in mining activities where a Council has to get the LQ greater than 1 and if they do they don’t have to present a case that they are mining affected, if less than 1 they do; introduction of a minimum grant for the project at a scale of $1million, etc. They still want to see Councils putting in their dollars where they can cant be government funds! Rest of the Guidelines to be the same such as the Cost Benefit Ratio where the project must have a BCR greater than 1, which is in legislation for all grant considerations, set by the NSW Treasury.

Next meeting for RIAP is 6th September where 35 projects have been received for consideration of $190m value of projects for shortlisting to allocate $50m.

Website

The website has been altered to reflect our strategic direction. There is a new part where only delegates can access minutes by a “log in” feature with the Executive Officer to canvass members to nominate a person from each Council to do this, if needed. Cost of the upgrade with the changes and to fro situation was in the vicinity of $5,000.

Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)

The next meeting of RAF has beens set down for 18th October 2018, Clr Hasler will provide an update to our November meetings.

Next Meetings of Association for 2018 – 8/9th November

We will have another regional meeting and a workshop on 8th/9th November 2018 in the Upper Lachlan Shire, at Crookwell, when its warmer!!! The Executive Officer has been discussing arrangements with the General Manager and the Council is keen to be involved. Upper Lachlan Shire Council area has the most number of wind farms in its Shire in Australia and on its website the Gullen Range Wind & Solar Farm is the first hybrid Solar & Wind Farm in Australia where they publish regular tours.

The Executive Committee will meet in the Upper Lachlan Council Chamber at 9am to 12pm on 8th November 2018 after this the Wind Farm workshop (commencing from 1pm to 4pm) will be held in the Crookwell Memorial Hall. The AGM & Ordinary meeting on 9th November 2018 will also be held in the Crookwell Memorial Hall. The dinner will be a la carte on the 8th November 2018 to be held at the Crookwell Services Club. Catering for the meetings will be provided by Leave it to Me!

Accommodation (for the Executive Committee that has to bump in on Wednesday night 7th November 2018 for their meeting next morning from 9am), has been reserved by the Upper Lachlan Council at the Uplands Pastures Motel. On the weekend from Friday 9th November 2018, after our meetings, there is a very popular Garden Festival being held, which may place some pressure on bookings if Festival goers want to book in beforehand. I recommend delegates book early. All accommodation options in and around the town of Crookwell are available on the following link, buses to/from the villages may be available or organised, if accommodation is required out of town: –

https://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/country-nsw/goulburn-area/crookwell/accommodation.

Membership Campaign

The membership drive continues and it is with regret to announce that Newcastle City Council has withdrwn from MERC reducing our numbers to 21, with Balranald still in abeyance. Newcastle has been approached to comprehend their decision and the minutes reveal that Council made the decision at a budget meeting to reduce their involvement in quite a few of their entities. Their delegate was the Mayor Cr Nuatali Nelmes who hadn’t been to a meeting since 2016 and they have have had  a lot of chnages at the Executive level. All is not lost as the Councils nominated at our August meeting and the wind farming workshop new members will be approached and enticed to join us as per the following points and our marketing policy.

In discussions with prominent people in Local Government, the critical point of difference and selling points of our Association are that the Association is specific on its issues; has seen there is a need to be the voice for energy for Councils; is not hampered by getting involved with the broader whole of state matters; has a seat at the table; its advice is sought by the government; we have experienced delegates on government working groups representing the members voices; we are not political and don’t have any collaborative problems within our group of dedicated delegates!

Why wouldn’t a Council join or or why would they leave, you have to ask the question are they truly representing their constituents under the Local Government Act when mining and energy issues are affecting their communities, are the legislated planning processes adequate to do this? Keep talking to your neighbours about the benefits of being a member of MERC.

The Association at its May meeting 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.

The foray into wind farming in the south will again provide more opportunities to present our case for them to join us. Southern NSW and New England areas will be targeted in due course, like we have with Orana and will with the Upper Lachlan Council neighbouring areas.

Research Fellowship Update

A contact from Wollongong City Council via Cr Tania Brown for the Executive Officer to contact Professor Pascal De Perez has evolved and discussions will take place on opportunities with the University of Wollongong.

They seem very interested in the Ph Fellowship program with MERC and already have a relationship with Wollonging City Council in a variety of areas.

Project Working Party

The Project working party is:- Jason Linnane, General Manager Singleton Council (Chair) the Executive Officer, planning staff that regularly attend MERC meetings in Ron Zwicker, Heather Nicholls, David Henry and Andrew Johns.

The working party will work with the Executive Officer to review the current MERC CSG Plan in relation to the NSW Energy Plan; the existing panel of consultants; prepare a survey of member Councils for renewable energy, mining and other specialised skill sets that could be accessed by members to assist with resource sharing, etc. Ron Zwicker has done some excellent preliminary work on the projects already.

This initiative is a resource sharing one in itself! Thank you to all of the working party, the working party will  will have the projects finalised for updates to delegates at the November Meetings.

Presentation to Federal Government House of Representatives Inquiry into the Impacts of Mining on Regional Economies

The Executive Officer presented the MERC submission to the Inquiry at Tamwoth on 4th September along with other presenters in the form of Gunnedah Shire Council (Deputy Mayor, Cr Gai Swain), Liverpool Plains Shire Council 9Mayor, Cr Andrew Hope), Gunnedah Chamber of Commerce (Stacey Cooke and Mike Broekman), NSW Minerals Council 9Steve Galilee), Whitehaven Coal (Paul Flynn), Red Chief Aboriginal Land Council (Mitchum Neave) and Patricia Duddy (Liverpool Plains Anti Coal Mining Action Group and Farmer).

The Inquiry consisted of the Chair (Barnaby Joyce, National Party, Member for New England) and Inquiry member (Neil Mitchell, Labor Party, Member for Lyons) and administrative staff and was recorded on Hansard. The Inquiry had been to Rockhampton, Moranbah in North Queensland and were on their way south form Tamworth.

The critical questions asked were built around – the procurement approach of mining companies (90 – 120 days payment terms to small businesses in some areas versus normal business practice of 30 days); the need for keeping jobs local; utilising existing TAFE facilities to skill up local workers for non trade skill jobs in the mines; how much money the mining companies were receiving for their products versus how much was going back into the regional economies to local businesses and local wages; and ways to rejuvenate regional economies.

The MERC submission provided details on the the impacts and included three case studies for Gunnedah Shire Council, Dubbo Regional Council and Singleton Councils to reflect how the Councils across NSW were impacted and dealing with the issues.

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

‘”Council agrees to a price for the sale of Wallaby Scrub Road Media Release from Singleton Council, 21st August 2018. “Wallaby Scrub Road will be sold after Singleton Council agreed on a purchase price to sell the former road corridor to adjoining landholders Warkworth Mining Limited and Miller Pohang Coal Company subject to publication of the notice of road closure in the NSW Gazette. A purchase price of $27.5 million (including GST) plus costs was agreed in closed Council at tonight’s ordinary meeting, with Council’s resolution also granting authority to the Mayor and General Manager to sign and affix the Common Seal of Council to the transfer documents.

The proposal to close the road was driven by the Mt Thorley Continuation Project, which required the acquisition of the Wallaby Scrub Road corridor to continue operations. Council’s role as the road authority was to consider the impacts of the closure from a roads management perspective. It was not to consider the mine expansion completed by the Planning Assessment Commission.

The approval in principle from the Department of Industry relates to the closure of 5.99km of Wallaby Scrub Road from the intersection of Putty Road, but excludes a portion of Crown road adjoining the road corridor and is conditional on the land being sold to the adjoining landholders. General Manager Jason Linnane said the community rightfully expected the best value for the asset. “Council has made very balanced and considered decisions to close the road throughout this process and made a determination tonight that the sale was the best outcome for the community, notwithstanding the impact of the road closure,” he said.

 “We are satisfied with the outcomes of the negotiation process and believe the negotiated price reflects the value of the property to our community and organisation. What’s more, legislation means all proceeds from the sale of the road corridor must be invested in the road network in the Singleton local government area, so the community will see continued benefits through improvements to local roads.”  Mr Linnane said Council’s resolution was reliant on publication of notice of road closure in the NSW Government Gazette by 28 September 2018, when approval for the closure would lapse.

“Following registration and with a binding agreement in place for the purchase of the land, the formal closure will progress following the publication of the Gazettal notice,” he said. “A detailed traffic management plan has been developed to facilitate the closure of Wallaby Scrub Road, and the community will be informed in advance of the closure taking place.”

NSW Lights up LED Plan” From the Industrial Careers 27th August 2018 newsletter: The NSW Government will spend $72 million from its Climate Change Fund to help businesses and households reduce energy costs. Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced a $35 million dollar plan for about 250 manufacturing businesses to install energy efficient equipment and smart meters.

An additional $24.5 million will help low-income renters obtain energy efficient lighting, heating and hot water systems. The Government says these low-income renters could save up to $400 a year on their energy bills. The rest of the funds will be spent installing LED bulbs in streetlights, and to accelerate the roll-out of solar panels on government buildings, such as schools and hospitals.

National Conservation Council of NSW CEO Kate Smolski said the Berejiklian Government is still not doing enough to reach its target of zero net emissions by 2050.  “NSW is on fire and the Government announces it is buying water pistols,” Ms Smolski said”. Refer www.industrial careers.com.au

CSIRO scores in safe gold trial. Also from the Industrial careers newsletter 27th August 2018 was this: “CSIRO has produced gold using a non-toxic chemical process without cyanide and mercury. The gold is the result of early industry trials of CSIRO’s ‘going for gold’ technology and was produced in partnership with small gold miner Eco Minerals Research at a demonstration plant in the Western Australian goldfields town of Menzies.

Cyanide is used in more than 90 per cent of global gold production, but producers are facing increasingly tough regulations that prevent or restrict its use due to environmental and health concerns .In response to recent spills of toxic cyanide, several regional agencies in the United States, South America and Europe have banned the use of cyanide for gold extraction.

The new technology replaces cyanide with thiosulphate, a non-toxic alternative, and a simple process flowsheet. The CSIRO research team behind the innovation has already had commercial success with another tailored cyanide-free gold solution developed with Barrick Gold specifically for their Goldstrike Mine in Nevada where it has been used for nearly four years to maintain production rates.

The $2.1 million demonstration project was made possible through $860,000 in funding from the Science and Industry Endowment fund (SIEF) and an Australian Government Innovation Connections grant. To reduce economic barriers to entry for small producers and help turn stranded gold deposits into production, CSIRO’s vision is to deliver the alternative process technology direct to mine sites via a mobile service.

A typical cyanide-based processing plant costs around $30 million, whereas the new technology has a lower capital investment costing as little as $2 – 2.5 million to build”.               

“Unclear future could harm industry”  

From the Industrial Career newsletter 28th August 2018:- “An energy expert says Australia’s unclear power policies could lead to an expert brain drain. Engineers and scientists might start looking outside Australia for work if the country’s renewable energy future remains uncertain, according to Kobad Bhavnagri, Australian head at research organisation at Bloomberg NEF.

“Australia may well be facing a big brain drain in new energy technologies after 2020,” Mr Bhavnagri has told the SBS. “Because there won’t be the projects getting built and the dollars being spent that put people in jobs. The industry that’s currently employing thousands of people and going gangbusters is probably going to come to a screeching halt,” he said.

Australia has seen record levels of investment in renewable energy, including wind and solar, in recent years. The country is now on track to beat last year’s record $8.5 billion investment in the sector. But Mr Bhavnagri says this is not enough, and that longer-term solutions are needed. “Australia’s pretty far behind because we still have electricity meters in our houses that a person has to come around and manually read on a sheet of paper,” he said. “That’s a really old school way of doing things and it doesn’t allow you to run a smart power grid.”

‘Morrison makes powerful moves”  Also from the Industrial Careers site 28th August 2018:-

The new PM has appointed an anti-wind energy minister, and a coal lobbyist as chief of staff. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has emerged on top after the chaotic self-destruction of the Federal Government. In his first moves since seizing power, PM Morrison’s new cabinet sees the energy and environment portfolios split apart once more.

Angus Taylor, a leading anti-wind campaigner, has been named as energy minister, while former mining industry lawyer Melissa Price has become the new environment minister.

Mr Morrison called Mr Taylor the “minister for getting energy prices down”, who would take over NEG talks to ensure the energy reforms would be “about reliability, price, keeping the lights on and getting prices down”.

Mr Taylor recently told 2GB that “the obsession with emissions at the expense of reliability and affordability has been a massive mistake. I do think that we’re at a point now where we can get that balance right,” he said.

Mr Taylor has campaigned for years against wind farms, both near his family’s property and in general, including speaking at the 2013 Wind Power Fraud Rally in Canberra.

He reportedly told the 100-odd attendees of the anti-wind power rally that the technology had caused regional communities to tear “themselves to pieces, cousins versus cousins, brothers versus brothers, for massive subsidies to the wind industry, facilitated by the Federal Government.”

He has described anthropogenic climate change as “the new climate religion”, and told Parliament that “religious belief is based on faith not facts. The new climate religion, recruiting disciples every day, has little basis on fact and everything to do with blind faith.”

The new energy minister has described state-based emissions reduction targets as “insane”, and strongly opposed the ACT government’s 100 per cent renewable energy target. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also named John Kunkel, former deputy CEO of the Minerals Council of Australia, as his chief of staff.

Mr Kunkel served as deputy CEO of the Minerals Council for over 6 years before taking up a key political lobbying position for major coal producer, Rio Tinto. Mr Kunkel has also worked with the consultancy Concept Economics, which is run by the outspoken opponents of climate action and renewable energy schemes, Henry Ergas and Brian Fisher.

Analysts are investigating what PM Morrison, who once famously waved a large lump of coal around in Parliament to prove it was not scary, will mean for Australia’s climate and energy future”.

“Rural communities receive windfalls from wind farms” From the Australian Wind Alliance web page www.windalliance.org.au  Distributed renewable energy projects connected to local communities is the future of energy generation in Australia, and together we’re making it happen. AWA’s latest report Building Stronger Communities: Wind’s growing role in regional Australia looks at the many ways wind farms are connecting with communities through benefit sharing. Making sure the benefits of wind farms stay local means wind energy can build relationships and make a positive contribution to the social fabric of rural and regional Australia.

The report investigates how income and investment from wind farms flows to local communities in the windiest parts of Australia (see image), from payments to landowners and sponsorship through to community co-ownership and co-investment. The report also takes a deeper look at Community Enhancement Funds (CEF), and the hundreds of projects they support around Australia.

Country Fire Services, Country Women’s Associations, Landcare groups, golf and bowling clubs, men’s sheds and progress associations are just some of the many organisations that have run projects, built community infrastructure and supported their communities through CEF grants. Wind farm community enhancement funds have supported community projects ranging from indigenous and community gardens, workshops for resilient living and health initiatives, food coops, local tourism marketing materials and upgrades to community facilities such as maternity and children’s rooms, playgrounds and sporting clubs. Rural Fire Services, Surf Lifesaving Clubs, native plant groups, theatres, public schools, libraries, kindergartens and community support services have all purchased or upgraded vital equipment.

You name it, somewhere, a local community has found a way to fix it, upgrade it or make it happen with the support of wind farm CEF funding. AWA is working with communities and the renewable energy industry to make sure wind farms continue to generate and deliver benefits locally and nationally, making the transitions to 100% renewables work for all of us.

READ THE REPORT HERE

Andrew will be at our Wind Farming workshop on 8th November 2018 to talk to this report.

Contact

If you have any queries in relation to this newsletter please do not hesitate to contact the Chair or the Executive Officer to see how we can assist you in your busy role as a Council delegate to the Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils.

Our contacts are:- Chair, Clr Peter Shinton, by email peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservice.com.au or info@miningrelatedCouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

 

Greg Lamont                                                                                     Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                                               Chair

MERC Newsletter – July 2018

Introduction

Delegates, here is the July 2018 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.

Wind Farming & Energy Workshop 8th November 2018 held in Crookwell

The Wind Farming workshop will be held on Thursday 8th November 2018 in Crookwell, to commence at 1.00pm with a variety of speakers from Councils, Government etc about how Councils can manage wind energy developments more effectively with some excellent Council examples, with the focus on wind farming and renewable energy generally. The workshop at Cobat has set the bar high!

Invitations will be sent to Yass Valley Council, Goulburn Mulwaree Regional Council, Oberon Shire Council, Cowra Shire Council, Hilltops Regional Council, Snowy River Regional Council, Glen Innes Shire Council, Inverell Shire Council, Queanbeyan City Councils etc., with operational, under construction or proposed wind farms in NSW as outlined on the Dept Planning website.

Yass Valley Council recently held their own in house workshop on the “for and against” arguments of wind farms so Councillors and the community can be better informed when they are required to determine any wind farm developments and manage existing developments.  Director Planning Services, Yass Shire Council, Chris Barry has been invited to present to our workshop, awaiting a response.

Mike Young (DPE Director Resource & Energy Assessments), who presented to the Cobar workshop and meeting is interested in attending in view of his senior role in the DPE and in assessing developments such as wind farms.

We will be pursuing the Clean Energy Council, Clean Energy Regulator, National Wind Alliance and Wind Farm Commissioner to attend and participate which will give the workshop a more in depth perspective.To top it off, hopefully the Deputy Premier and Leader of the National Party, Hon John Barilaro can be enticed to attend and participate, as the member for Monaro, a bit further south of Crookwell.

Andrew Warren, Tourism Manager, Upper Lachlan Shire Council, Crookwell is assisting with the organisation of the workshop, dinner, AGM, Executive and Ordinary meetings and activities for the visit to the Upper Lachlan region in November 2018, his help has been very beneficial to date, as you can see with the details in this Newsletter.

Next MERC meetings in Sydney 9/10th August 2018

The Executive Committee will meet at 2.00pm in the McKell Room, NSW Parliament House, on 9th August 2018. The Ordinary meeting will be held the next day on 10th August 2018 in the Preston Stanley Meeting Room, NSW Parliament House to commence from 9.00am and finish at 1.00pm with lunch. It is near the Strangers Dining Room, delegates will have to be screened to get in, so allow time to do so.You will have to wear lanyards with your name on them to be provided by MERC to enter the secured area where we will be. We have 16 Councils represented at 2/8/18.

If you are attending the meetings on 9th (Executive Committee) and 10th August 2018 (Ordinary General) in Sydney at NSW Parliament House meeting and you haven’t already done so please can you advise the Executive Officer by email to info@miningrelatedcouncils.asn.au as soon as possible for registrations, catering has been a quesstimate!!!.

Speakers for the Meeting in NSW Parliament House 10th August 2018

Speakers confirmed for the meeting on 10th August 2018 on Resources for Regions are:

  • Phil Donato, Member for Orange (Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party);
  • Michael Johnsen, Member for Upper Hunter (National Party) and Gary Barnes, Deputy Secretary Premier & Cabinet’s Department (representing Deputy Premier, Hon John Barilaro);
  • Hon Adam Searle MLC, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, Shadow Minister for Industry, Resources & Energy and Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations;
  • Matthew Nelson, Director Complinace Operations for Andrew Keon, Chief Compliance Officer, Resources Regulator.

The Greens have been contacted and have advised that Jeremy Buckingham is the nominated spokesperson for them on mining & energy related issues, awaiting confirmation of attendance. If they all turn up it should be a very interesting session especially with the impending State Elections in March 2019!

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

A copy of the draft report from Chris Wilson was forwarded to delegates before the meetings on 10/11th May 2018 and following a briefing from the working party and discussions with delegates at the Ordinary meeting on 11th May, it was resolved that the concerns raised be put into a submission to Chris Wilson prior to him submitting the report to the DPE. This was done and Chris Wilson has forwarded the report to DPE on 30th June 2018 with our comments therein.

We are waiting on a copy of the report for further consideration by the working party. The Executive Officer has been speaking with Stephen Barry at DPE to get a copy of the report and to set a date to have a meeting with NSW Minerals Council CEO and their new Director Policy; the DPE and our VPA working party members, as soon as possible. The aim of the forum is to go over the areas not in agreement and determine a path forward to get agreement, so the Guidelines can be finalised by our Annual General Meeting in November 2018. To date of this Newsletter a meeting wont be held until after week beginning 13th August 2018 when DPE organises it. Still no report to hand but meeting imminent.

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

At the Ordinary General meeting held in Cobar on 11th May 2018, the Association resolved to invite leaders of the State Government, Opposition, Greens and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Parties to talk to delegates about concerns we have with the current Resources for Regions criteria i.e. cost benefit analysis, co – contribution and original intention of returning funds to the mining affected areas from where the royalties were raised, for infrastructure developments, etc. There has been a good response as outlined in the speakers for next meeting section of this newsletter.

The Executive Officer has been advised by Chris Hanger, NSW Infrastructure, on the changes the government is considering to make to the criteria for Resources for Regions easier to meet by Councils by decreasing the co contribution funding to 25% and including a hardship case provision, if this cant be met; introducing a Location Quotient (LQ) based on ABS 2016 statistics for mining affected areas and employment in mining activities where a Council has to get the LQ greater than 1 and if they do they don’t have to present a case that they are mining affected, if less than 1 they do; introduction of a minimum grant for the project at a scale of $1million, etc. They still want to see Councils putting in their dollars where they can! Rest of the Guidelines to be the same such as the Cost Benefit Ratio.

Short listed applicants were promised in March 2018 that the last round of the Resources for Regions Grants would be released by end of May 2018, the process started mid last year….

Website

The website has been altered to reflect our new direction, with further changes to be considered by the Executive Committee on 9th August, have a look and provide feedback. There is a new part where delegates can access minutes by either registration or log in with Execiutive Officer (to be determined), to ensure there is a members only feature.

Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)

MERC delegate, Cr Owen Hasler attended the RAF meeting on 21st June 2018 and will provide an informed summary at our Ordinary meeting in August. In the meantime, he has requested that since the Voluntary Land Acquisition for Mining Projects from Adjoining Owners (VLAMP) Guidelines developed by the DPE have been implemented this year, if any Councils have had non compliance issues or where compliance is seen to be less than expected or not reflective of the VLAMP Guidelines they should raise them with the DPE. The contact persons are Dr Oliver Holmes, Director Compliance and Marcus Rae, Director Planning as they are looking for specific examples where this has been happening.

Next Meetings of Association for 2018 – 8/9th November

We will have another regional meeting and a workshop on 8th/9th November 2018 in the Upper Lachlan Shire, at Crookwell, when its warmer!!! The Executive Officer has been discussing arrangements with the Acting General Manager and the Council is keen to be involved. Upper Lachlan Shire Council area has the most number of wind farms in its Shire in Australia and on its website the Gullen Range Wind & Solar Farm is the first hybrid Solar & Wind Farm in Australia where they publish regular tours.

The Executive Committee will meet in the Upper Lachlan Council Chamber at 9am to 12pm on 8th November 2018 after this the Wind Farm workshop (commencing from 1pm to 4pm) will be held in the Crookwell Memorial Hall. The AGM & Ordinary meeting on 9th November 2018 will also be held in the Crookwell Memorial Hall. The dinner will be a la carte on the 8th November 2018 to be held at the Crookwell Services Club. Catering for the meetings will be provided by Leave it to Me!

Accommodation (for the Executive Committee that has to bump in on Wednesday night 7th November 2018 for their meeting next morning from 9am), has been reserved by the Upper Lachlan Council at the Uplands Pastures Motel. On the weekend from Friday 9th November 2018, after our meetings, there is a very popular Garden Festival being held, which may place some pressure on bookings if Festival goers want to book in beforehand. I recommend delegates book early. All accommodation options in and around the town of Crookwell are available on the following link, buses to/from the villages may be available or organised, if accommodation is required out of town: –

https://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/country-nsw/goulburn-area/crookwell/accommodation.

Membership Campaign

The Executive Officer has been informed formally that Warren and Walgett Shire Councils have resolved to join the Association and Balranald have indicated they would verbally but are yet to formalise it. Gilgandra have advised “Council resolved to decline the invitation to join at this stage on the basis that there is no solar farm in the Gilgandra Shire Council area with a voluntary planning agreement. Membership will be reconsidered if a formal solar project application occurs in the future”.

In discussions with prominent people in Local Government, the critical point of difference and selling points of our Association are that the Association is specific on its issues; has seen there is a need to be the voice for energy for Councils; is not hampered by getting involved with the broader whole of state matters; has a seat at the table; its advice is sought by the government; we have experienced delegates on government working groups representing the members voices; we are not political and don’t have any collaborative problems within our group of dedicated delegates!

Why wouldn’t a Council join or or why would they leave, you have to ask the question are they truly representing their constituents under the Local Government Act when mining and energy issues are affecting their communities, are the legislated planning processes adequate to do this? Keep talking to your neighbours about the benefits of being a member of MERC.

The Association at its May meeting 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. The foray into wind farming in the south will again provide more opportunities to present our case for them to join us. Southern NSW and New England areas will be targeted in due course, like we have with Orana and will with the Upper Lachlan Council neighbouring areas.

 Australian Mining Cities Alliance (AMCA)

The meeting at Cobar on 11th May 2018 provided the opportunity for the Mayor of Broken Hill City Council, Cr Darriea Turley to explain the background to the formation of the alliance and its objectives as a Federal body and its objectives.

Since then an invitation to join the AMCA has been received and provided to the Executive Committee to make a recommendation to delegates on Friday 10th August 2018. The fee structure is interesting if MERC wanted to join “as a not for profit organisation with a strong stake in the relevance of mining in Australia’s mining cities”, it will cost a one off $10,000 fee plus $7000 pa.

 Research Fellowship Update

The Executive Officer has had discussions with representatives of the University Technology Sydney on how they could be involved in an arrangement with MERC via an MOU to prepare papers on specific mining and energy related topics that are outlined in the Strategic Plan, as a research partner in lieu of a research fellowship arrangement. Trying to get them to meet and or discuss options with Executive Officer has been difficult in view of the workload of the Professor involved.

Project Working Party

Jason Linnane, General Manager Singleton Council has agreed to Chair the working party consisting of the Executive Officer, planning staff that regularly attend MERC meetings in Ron Zwicker, Heather Nicholls, David Henry and Andrew Johns.

The working party will work with the Executive Officer to review the current MERC CSG Plan in relation to the NSW Energy Plan; the existing panel of consultants; prepare a survey of member Councils for renewable energy, mining and other specialised skill sets that could be accessed by members to assist with resource sharing, etc. Ron Zwicker has done some preliminary work on the projects already.

This initiative is a resource sharing one in itself! Thank you all The working party will have the projects finalised for updates to the November Meetings.

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

‘”Hunter Valley Mine winding down10th July 2018, Refer www.industrialcareer.com.au/news

Yancoal has announced over 200 employees will be stood down or re-deployed from the Austar coal mine in NSW. The mine at Paxton, west of Cessnock, will be stripped down to a skeleton crew in line with compliance requirements. The 100-year-old mine was the site of an incident in 2014 that killed two men, Philip Grant, 35, of Metford and 49-year-old Jamie Mitchell of Aberdare. They were working about 10 kilometres from the mine’s entry and 500 metres below ground when a wall collapsed.

All underground longwall production activities at the operation have been prohibited following two prohibition notices issued after significant coal burst events in which coal suddenly and violently erupts into the mine. The first Resources Regulator notice came in February 2018 when approximately 50 tonnes of coal was ejected from the face of the mine, injuring one worker. A second notice came in May 2018 after an estimated 60 tonnes of coal was ejected, with about two tonnes landing in the walkway. No workers were injured, but the coal burst caused significant damage to equipment.

The mine has permission for some controlled cutting under strict conditions to test additional ways to mitigate a coal burst risk. The Resources Regulator says the notices will remain in place until detailed geotechnical assessments and comprehensive risk controls are implemented.

Yancoal Australia CEO Reinhold Schmidt said efforts are being made to move employees to other mines. “We have worked to redeploy the majority of the Austar workforce to the Ashton, Abel and Moolarben underground mines in the interests of providing continued employment for our people,” he said. “Until all legal avenues have been exhausted and we can re-enter the mine to move the longwall, we are unable to continue proposed longwall activity.”

 

The State of Clean Energy: How are the states tracking on renewables?” Tara Tyrell, Queesnland Mining & Energy Bulletin, July 25th 2018.

Victoria is undergoing a rapid transition from one dominated by brown coal to one where close to half of consumption is met by renewables. By 2020 Victorian renewables plants will generate 39.4% of the state’s power consumption, a dramatic expansion from the 17.7% share in 2015. By 2030 renewable generation would grow to 45.7% of consumption thanks to ongoing growth of rooftop solar alone.

Queensland has awoken from its renewable slumber and has demonstrated the fastest growth in renewables supply and development. Between 2010 and 2015 there was almost no expansion in large-scale renewables in QLD and renewables represented just 7.4% of 2015 consumption. By 2020 Queensland will meet 25% of electricity consumption from renewables. Even more impressively, the projects being pursued by companies for development could generate power equal to more than 90% of consumption in 2030, but most of these projects are unlikely to get off the ground given the weak targets on offer under the Turnbull government’s National Energy Guarantee.

NSW is the laggard of the pack, falling short of 20% renewables by 2020 – well behind other states. NSW is currently on track to just 19.7% renewables by 2020 and 26.1% by 2030.

Other states are outpacing NSW in terms of project development. The projects currently being scoped could generate more than half its expected 2030 electricity consumption if they were to be constructed, but again this is unlikely without a major change in state policy and much stronger NEG targets.

Tasmania and South Australia are moving towards a position where they could generate more renewable energy than they could consume, even with greater energy storage. Projections suggest their future is as clean power exporters.

South Australia is on track to renewables generation equal to 70% of the state’s electricity consumption by 2020 and 85% by 2030. Its full pipeline of projects undergoing development could generate more than twice the state’s 2030 consumption. Thanks to two new wind farms Tasmania can continue to meet its needs entirely with renewable energy. But it could generate 20% more renewable energy than it consumes if its development projects were to proceed to construction.

Get Up Campaigns Director Miriam Lyons said the REI reveals that with strong targets and the right political leadership Australia could have a clean and green future, but development will remain dormant under current federal government policies and progress will be lost.

“The rapid ramp-up in investment in the past three years have shown the kind of growth possible with strong targets and supporting policy and demonstrates we can reach for far greater targets down the track. The NEG does nothing to build on this progress and sends us backwards when we could be bounding forward as a world leader in clean energy, creating jobs and taking action on climate change in the process. What the REI demonstrates is there’s a clear option here, we kill off renewables growth and pollute the planet with a do nothing NEG, or we develop a policy that sets strong targets and continues the renewables boom and delivers a cleaner and greener Australia.”

Satisfaction with electricity providers declining” Tara Tyrell, Queensland Mining & Energy Bulletin, 25th July 2018, reports on the latest satisfaction levels (Roy Morgan) as follows:

New results from Roy Morgan show that customer satisfaction with electricity providers in the 12 months to May 2018 was only 56.6%, down from 60.4% in the 12 months to May 2017. NPS® for electricity providers is also now at a very low minus 47.6.  These low satisfaction and NPS levels show why 2.1 million customers are considering switching over the next 12 months. These are the latest findings from Roy Morgan’s ‘Customer Satisfaction – Electricity Providers Report’ which is based on in-depth personal interviews conducted face-to-face with over 50,000 Australians per annum in their own homes, including over 14,000 interviews with people who rated their satisfaction with their electricity connection. 

Red Energy retains satisfaction lead. Red Energy with a satisfaction rating of 70.0% remains in top position among the largest providers, narrowly ahead of Simply Energy (65.0%) and Energy Australia (64.4%). There is a wide range of satisfaction levels across the major players, with Ergon Energy on 53.7% being currently the lowest performer. With satisfaction declining by 3.8% points across the total market over the last year, it is not surprising that declines in satisfaction were seen across nearly all the major players with the exception of Actew AGL which improved by 2.4% points, Ergon up 2.4% points, and Aurora Energy (up 1.1% points). Both of the largest players showed a drop in satisfaction, with Origin down 9.4% points (to 54.2%) and AGL down 0.6% points (to 61.2%).

Satisfaction level with electricity provider impacts switching intentions. The survey shows that the level of satisfaction across the five point scale has a direct impact on switching intentions. For example, nearly half (43.7%) of the customers who are ‘very dissatisfied’ with their electricity provider say that they are either ‘very likely’ or ‘fairly likely’ to switch companies in the next 12 months. Even more than a third (36.0%) of those who are ‘fairly dissatisfied’ say they are likely to switch in the next 12 months. Those customers who are ‘very satisfied’ have a very low intention to switch at only 4.9%, which is well below the current industry average of 10.6%. Even those who are only ‘fairly satisfied’ have a below average intention (8.1%) to switch providers in the next 12 months.

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan, says: “The decline in satisfaction with electricity providers over the last year, down to only 56.6% is of major concern because it is well below the level of 73.5% when this survey began in 2009. It is likely that the most recent decline is a result of the continual negative news regarding energy shortages, blackouts, reliability, price increases and general lack of confidence in the long term direction the government is taking to tackle these issues. It is important to note that although most of the major electricity providers are operating in a similar negative environment, the fact that there are major differences in satisfaction show that there are lesson to be learnt by examining what the better performers are doing right. The data used here is only a small part of the extensive data that we have available on all major utilities. To find out more, ask Roy Morgan.”

“Shenhua Exploration Licence Approved” Refer 24th July 2018, www.industrialnews.com.au

The NSW Government has partly renewed the coal exploration licence for the controversial Shenhua Watermark project. While some exploration will be allowed to continue, the Government says it will not release other parts of the Liverpool Plains for exploration. Resources Minister Don Harwin said the decision was made after a rigorous assessment.

It comes about a year after Mr Harwin announced a Government buy-back of 51.4 per cent of Shenhua’s exploration licence, at a cost of $262 million. The Government said at the time that it wanted to protect the farming future of the Liverpool Plains, which is suffering under severe drought conditions. Now, Mr Harwin says “prime agricultural land of black soil plains” is protected from mining exploration. The deal “struck the right balance between protecting the area’s farming future while encouraging investment in the resources sector,” he said. “We will not release other parts of the Liverpool Plains for exploration.”

The company still needs mining production leases and other approval from the State Government before it can do any mining. Federal Government sign-off on biodiversity and water management plans would also be required before production begins.

The state’s opposition said it was a “disturbing development” with a “very significant and detrimental impact” likely. “The water table is all linked, water that serves the Liverpool Plains will also be the water table that the mining company will need to draw on for its mine,” Labor Resources spokesperson Adam Searle said. “The whole ecosystem in that area is completely linked and it’s completely false to suggest that there will be no impact on the Liverpool Plains.”

Contact

If you have any queries in relation to this newsletter please do not hesitate to contact the Chair or the Executive Officer to see how we can assist you in your busy role as a Council delegate to the Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils.

Our contacts are:- Chair, Clr Peter Shinton, by email peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservice.com.au or info@miningrelatedCouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

 

Greg Lamont                                                                                      Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                                               Chair

MERC Newsletter – June 2018

Introduction

Delegates, here is the June 2018 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.

 

Recognition of Achievement – Cr Lilliane Brady OAM

On 2nd July whilst undertaking her Country Forums, the President of LGNSW, Linda Scott when in Cobar, presented the Mayor of Cobar, Cr Lilliane Brady OAM (Deputy Chair of the Association) with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for her outstanding contribution to Local Government and the mining & rural community, for a period greater than 17 years. Well done Lilliane, you are a deserving recipient of this prestigious Award, presented in recognition of your continued dedicated service to your community.

 

2018 Australian Mining Industry Annual Lecture – The Hon Andrew Robb AO

The Chair of our Association Peter Shinton and Deputy Chair Cr Lilliane Brady OAM were personally invited by the Minerals Council of Australia Chair, following their attendance last year at the Prime Ministers Parliamentary Dinner, to attend the 2018 Australian Mining Industry Annual Lecture delivered by the Hon Andrew Robb AO on 2nd July 2018 in Melbourne, demonstrating where our Association audience is reaching to these days. Unfortunately, Lilliane was an apology due to a clash with events.

Whilst Lilliane could not attend the lecture, she was busy (as Mayor of Cobar hosting the President of LGNSW, Cr Linda Scott) Peter was representing the Association at the Australian Mining Industry Annual lecture delivered by the Hon Andrew Robb AO. Details of the former Federal Minister’s lecture is on www.minerals.org.au/ search for Andrew Lobb Lecture 2nd July 2018, it is very interesting, his lecture is on “Global Forces are Shaping Australian Mining” referring to growth of China and India and their demand for resources from Australia. The Chair has made new contacts for the Association and learnt a lot about silica mining in Tasmania and cleaning up brown coal using a bi product of water and methane….. more stories when you catch up with him!

 

Wind Farming & Energy Workshop 8th November 2018 held in Crookwell

The Wind Farming workshop will be held on Thursday 8th November 2018 in Crookwell, to commence at 1.00pm with a variety of speakers from Councils, Government etc about how Councils can manage wind energy developments more effectively with some excellent Council examples, with the focus on wind farming and renewable energy generally. The workshop at Cobat has set the bar high!

Invitations will be sent to Yass Valley Council, Goulburn Mulwaree Regional Council, Oberon Shire Council, Cowra Shire Council, Hilltops Regional Council, Snowy River Regional Council, Glen Innes Shire Council, Inverell Shire Council, Queanbeyan City Councils etc., with operational, under construction or proposed wind farms in NSW as outlined on the Dept Planning website.

Yass Valley Council recently held their own in house workshop on the “for and against” arguments of wind farms so Councillors and the community can be better informed when they are required to determine any wind farm developments and manage existing developments.  Director Planning Services, Yass Shire Council, Chris Barry has been invited to present to our workshop, awaiting a response.

Mike Young (DPE Director Resource & Energy Assessments), who presented to the Cobar workshop and meeting is interested in attending in view of his senior role in the DPE and in assessing dvelopments such as wind farms.

We will be pursuing the Clean Energy Council, Clean Energy Regulator, National Wind Alliance and Wind Farm Comissioner to attend and participate which will give the workshop a more in depth perspective.To top it off, hopefully the Deputy Premier and Leader of the National Party, Hon John Barilaro can be enticed to attend and participate, as the member for Monaro, a bit further south of Crookwell.

Andrew Warren, Tourism Manager, Upper Lachlan Shire Council, Crookwell is assisting with the organisation of the workshop, dinner, AGM, Executive and Ordinary meetings and activities for the visit to the Upper Lachlan region in November 2018, his help has been very beneficial to date, as you can see with the details in this Newsletter.

The General Manager of Upper Lachlan Shire Council, John Bell, is on leave until end of August and it so happens that the Acting General Manager is Gary Woodman, ex Cobar, Shire General Manager, Warren Shire and Singleton Council senior staff member who is familiar with what the Association does in view of his former roles.

 

Next MERC meetings in Sydney 9/10th August 2018

The Executive Committee will meet at 2.00pm in the McKell Room, NSW Parliament House, on 9th August 2018. The Ordinary meeting will be held the next day on 10th August 2018 in the Preston Stanley Meeting Room, NSW Parliament House to commence from 9.00am and finish at 1.00pm with lunch. It is near the Strangers Dining Room, delegates will have to be screened to get in, so allow time to do so.

Attendances have been very good to date, no quorum risks, since we have started having our Sydney meetings held at NSW Parliament House and informative regional meetings with a workshop in the afternoon and a networking dinner that night before the Ordinary General Meeting next day.

If you are attending the meetings on 9th (Executive Committee) and 10th August 2018 (Ordinary General) in Sydney at NSW Parliament House meeting can you advise the Executive Officer by email to info@miningrelatedcouncils.asn.au as soon as possible for numbers and catering.

 

Speakers for the Meeting in NSW Parliament House 10th August 2018

Speakers confirmed for the meeting on 10th August 2018 on Resources for Regions are:

  • Phil Donato, Member for Orange (Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party);
  • Michael Johnsen, Member for Upper Hunter (National Party) and Gary Barnes, Deputy Secretary Premier & Cabinet’s Department (representing Deputy Premier, Hon John Barilaro);
  • Hon Adam Searle MLC, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, Shadow Minister for Industry, Resources & Energy and Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations;
  • Andrew Keon, Chief Compliance Officer, Resources Regulator

The Greens have been contacted and have advised that Jeremy Buckingham is the nominated spokesperson for them on mining & energy related issues, awaiting confirmation of attendance. If they all turn up it should be a very interesting session especially with the impending State Elections in March 2019!

 

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

A copy of the draft report from Chris Wilson was forwarded to delegates before the meetings on 10/11th May 2018 and following a briefing from the working party and discussions with delegates at the Ordinary meeting on 11th May, it was resolved that the concerns raised be put into a submission to Chris Wilson prior to him submitting the report to the DPE. This was done and Chris Wilson has forwarded the report to DPE on 30th June 2018 with our comments therein.

We are waiting on a copy of the report for further consideration by the working party. The Executive Officer has been speaking with Stephen Barry at DPE to get a copy of the report and to set a date to have a meeting with NSW Minerals Council CEO and their new Director Policy; the DPE and our VPA working party members, as soon as possible. The aim of the forum is to go over the areas not in agreement and determine a path forward to get agreement, so the Guidelines can be finalised by our Annual General Meeting in November 2018.

 

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

At the Ordinary General meeting held in Cobar on 11th May 2018, the Association resolved to invite leaders of the State Government, Opposition, Greens and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Parties to talk to delegates about concerns we have with the current Resources for Regions criteria ie cost benefit analysis, co – contribution and original intention of returning funds to the mining affected areas from where the royalties were raised, for infrastructure developments, etc. There has been a good response as outlined in the speakers for next meeting section of this newsletter.

The Executive Officer has been advised by Chris Hanger, NSW Infrastructure, on the changes the government is considering to make to the criteria for Resources for Regions easier to meet by Councils by decreasing the co contribution funding to 25% and including a hardship case provision, if this cant be met; introducing a Location Quotient (LQ) based on ABS 2016 statistics for mining affected areas and employment in mining activities where a Council has to get the LQ greater than 1 and if they do they don’t have to present a case that they are mining affected, if less than 1 they do; introduction of a minimum grant for the project at a scale of $1million, etc. They still want to see Councils putting in their dollars where they can! Rest of the Guidelines to be the same such as the Cost Benefit Ratio.

Short listed applicants were promised in March 2018 that the last round of the Resources for Regions Grants would be released by end of May 2018, the process started mid last year….

 

Website

The Executive Officer has been in discussion with CIBIS on the format for the new website  after going through the contents with the Executive Committee on 10th May 2018. These are – a Log in provision for members, more photos of mining and energy activities, condensing the number of pages, captions on photos, new logo and colours, format, etc. The brief has been provided to the web page designer to complete, waiting on the draft.

 

Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)

MERC delegate, Cr Owen Hasler attended the RAF meeting on 21st June 2018 and will provide an informed summary at our Ordinary meeting in August. In the meantime, he has requested that since the Voluntary Land Acquisition for Mining Projects from Adjoining Owners (VLAMP) Guidelines developed by the DPE have been implemented this year, if any Councils have had non compliance issues or where compliance is seen to be less than expected or not reflective of the VLAMP Guidelines they should raise them with the DPE. The contact persons are Dr Oliver Holmes, Director Compliance and Marcus Rae, Director Planning as they are looking for specific examples where this has been happening.

 

Next Meetings of Association for 2018 – 8/9th November

We will have another regional meeting and a workshop on 8th/9th November 2018 in the Upper Lachlan Shire, at Crookwell, when its warmer!!! The Executive Officer has been discussing arrangements with the Acting General Manager and the Council is keen to be involved. Upper Lachlan Shire Council area has the most number of wind farms in its Shire in Australia and on its website the Gullen Range Wind & Solar Farm is the first hybrid Solar & Wind Farm in Australia where they publish regular tours.

The Executive Committee will meet in the Upper Lachlan Council Chamber at 9am on 8th November 2018 after this the Wind Farm workshop (commencing from 1pm to 4pm) will be held in the Crookwell Memorial Hall. The AGM & Ordinary meeting on 9th November 2018 will also be held in the Crookwell Memorial Hall. The dinner will be a la carte on the 8th November 2018 to be held at the Crookwell Services Club. Catering for the meetings will be provided by Leave it to Me!

Accommodation (for the Executive Committee that has to bump in on Wednesday night 7th November 2018 for their meeting next morning from 9am), has been reserved by the Upper Lachlan Council at the Uplands Pastures Motel. On the weekend from Friday 9th November 2018, after our meetings, there is a very popular Garden Festival being held, which may place some pressure on bookings if Festivel goers want to book in beforehand. I recommend delegates book early. All accomodation options in and around the town of Crookwell are available on the following link, buses to/from the villages may be available or organised, if accomodation is required out of town: –

https://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/country-nsw/goulburn-area/crookwell/accommodation.

 

Speakers at future meetings

The Hon Rick Colless, MLC, is the sponsor for MERC to have meetings at NSW Parliament House, plus he has also indicated if any members need any assistance in getting to the members of parliament for a meeting to contact his office for his assistance.

The Executive Officer has been informed that Minister Barilaro is unavailable for 9/10th August 2018 due to electorate committments but has indicated Gary Barnes, Deputy Secretary, Premier and Cabinet’s Department and Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen will represent him to talk about Resources for Regions criteria.

The Labor party (Adam Searle), Greens (Jeremy Buckingham) and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers parties (Phil Donato) have been approached to attend future meetings, results outlined earlier in the newsletter, as will the Clean Energy Council (Anna Freeman), Clean Energy Regulator, National Wind Alliance and Wind Farm Commissioner (Andrew Dyer) will be approached for the November workshop and meeting.

 

Membership Campaign

The Executive Officer has been informed formally that Warren and Walgett Shire Councils have resolved to join the Association and Balranald have indicated they would verbally but are yet to formalise it. Gilgandra have advised “Council resolved to decline the invitation to join at this stage on the basis that there is no solar farm in the Gilgandra Shire Council area with a voluntary planning agreement. Membership will be reconsidered if a formal solar project application occurs in the future.(In other words they are not sure about the project)

In discussions with prominent people in Local Government, the critical point of difference and selling points of our Association are that the Association is specific on its issues; has seen there is a need to be the voice for energy for Councils; is not hampered by getting involved with the broader whole of state matters; has a seat at the table; its advice is sought by the government; we have experienced delegates on government working groups representing the members voices; we are not political and don’t have any collaborative problems within our group of dedicated delegates!

Why wouldn’t a Council join or or why would they leave, you have to ask the question are they truly representing their constituents under the Local Government Act when mining and energy issues are affecting their communities, are the legislated planning processes adequate to do this? Keep talking to your neighbours about the benefits of being a member of MERC.

The Association at its May meeting 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. The foray into wind farming in the south will again provide more opportunities to present our case for them to join us. Southern NSW and New England areas will be targeted in due course, like we have with Orana and will with the Upper Lachlan Council neighboring areas.

 

Australian Mining Cities Alliance

The meeting at Cobar on 11th May 2018 provided the opportunity for the Mayor of Broken Hill City Council, Cr Darriea Turley to explain the background to the formation of the alliance and its objectives as a Federal body and its objectives.

The Alliance had a stand at the recent Australian Local Government conference and Chair Peter spoke to the person manning the stand about the Alliance but  was obviously a stand in as he didn’t seem to know a lot about them. The fee structure is interesting if MERC wanted to join “as a not for profit organisation with a strong stake in the relevance of mining in Australia’s mining cities”, it will cost a one off $10,000 fee plus $7000 pa. The Association has resolved that further details be obtained & a report submitted to delegates at next meeting in August by the Executive Officer. Details have now been received to do this.

 

Research Fellowship Update

The Executive Officer has had discussions with representatives of the University Technology Sydney on how they could be involved in an arrangement with MERC via an MOU to prepare papers on specific mining and energy related topics that are outlined in the Strategic Plan, as a research partner in lieu of a research fellowship arrangement. Trying to get them to meet with Executive Committee on 8th August 2018.

 

Project Working Party

Jason Linnane, General Manager Singleton Council has agreed to Chair the working party consisting of the Executive Officer, planning staff that regularly attend MERC meetings in Ron Zwicker, Heather Nicholls, David Henry and Andrew Johns. They will work with the Executive Officer to review the current MERC CSG Plan in relation to the NSW Energy Plan, the existing panel of consultants; prepare a survey of member Councils for renewable energy, mining and other specialised skill sets that could be accessed by members to assist with resource sharing, etc. This initiative is a resource sharing one in itself! Thank you all.

 

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

“Federal Government Inquiry into how the mining sector can support businesses in regional economies” (Barnaby Joyce to Chair see below).

On Wednesday, 27 June 2018, the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator the Hon Matthew Canavan, asked the Standing Committee on Industry, Innovation, Science and Resources to inquire into and report on how the mining sector can support businesses in regional economies. The Committee invites interested persons and organizations to make submissions addressing the terms of reference. Please contact the secretariat if you require an extension. Online submissions can be made on this page. For information on how to make a submission, go to our  Making a submission to a Committee Inquiry page. Submissions due 10 August.

Terms of Reference: The committee will inquire into how the development of the mining sector can support businesses in regional economies. The inquiry will consider questions including:-the appropriateness of the payment terms offered to businesses by the mining sector; best practices between the mining sector and businesses, especially in regards to how they can support regional communities and economies; barriers to the greater use of regional businesses in the procurement of services by the mining sector; building the skills and expertise of businesses to leverage opportunities in the mining sector; opportunities for businesses to diversify to other markets; including the mining industry in Australia and overseas, and across different industries; the role of mining equipment, technology and services (METS) organisations in R&D and innovation and how payment terms impact on companies’ ability to invest in these areas; how the Federal Government can support businesses in regional economies benefit from mining development;  how royalties are shared between landholders on gas fields and State and Territory Governments; and  any other related matter. When undertaking this Inquiry the Committee should have regard to:-how relationships between mining and businesses differ between jurisdictions and in overseas countries; and the policies of State and Territory Governments in regards to mining procurement.

Barnaby Joyce chairs regional mining committee” Jamieson Murphy writes on 3rd July the following article in the Northern Daily Leader:

https://www.nohttps://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/5500699/barnaby-joyce-to-chair-govts-regional-mining-committee/?src=rssrtherndailyleader.com.au/story/5500699/barnaby-joyce-to-chair-govts-regional-mining-committee/?src=rss

Comment form Executive Officer: This is a Federal Government Inquiry into how the mining sector can support businesses in regional economies. The Association will prepare a submission on behalf of the regional communities in NSW and will undertake enquiries if it is able to attend the inquiry in person. If any delegate has any thoughts on content, data sources or case studies to assist, can they provide them to the Executive Officer by email as soon as possible.

“Energy Innovation Mining Expo” The Gunnedah Show Society is having its inaugural Energy, Innovation & Mining Expo on 1 – 3 November 2018 where there will be a range of exhibitors and speakers from the energy & mining industry sector with the emphasis on innovation. Enquiries to MERC delegate Cr Rob Hookes, Gunnedah Shire Council.

“ASIC recommends voluntary disclosure of climate risks” In the Financial Review 19th June 2018, Misa Han wrote:” The corporate regulator has encouraged companies to go beyond meeting strict legal requirements and voluntarily disclose climate change risks and opportunities to the market. Australian Securities and Investments Commission commissioner John Price told a Centre for Policy Development forum on Monday night that in addition to the strict legal requirements, companies should also “carefully consider the general information needs of investors” when it comes to disclosing climate risks. The financial stability board’s Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) issued voluntary recommendations in 2015 to help companies with how to disclose climate change-related risks and opportunities, and what type of information to disclose. A number of ASX-listed companies have already announced an intention to report under the framework. Mr Price said some boards may be reluctant to fully adopt TCFD reporting to the market, particularly the scenario analysis component. As part of TCFD reporting, companies can use “scenario analysis” – a set of hypothetical scenarios that cover a reasonable variety of future outcomes. But Mr Price said the law or ASIC’s policy generally would not impede a company from undertaking scenario analysis. “Likewise, we do not think that director liability should be a major impediment to reporting under TCFD recommendations provided that the modelling adopts reasonable assumptions and inputs and discloses them in full,” he said. The speech comes after the prudential regulator’s “landmark” speech warning Australian financial institutions for the first time about the risks of climate change in February 2017. Refer www. financialreview.com.au

 

Contact

If you have any queries in relation to this newsletter please do not hesitate to contact the Chair or the Executive Officer to see how we can assist you in your busy role as a Council delegate to the Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils.

Our contacts are:- Chair, Clr Peter Shinton, by email peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservice.com.au or info@miningrelatedCouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

 

Greg Lamont                                                                                     Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                                               Chair

MERC Newsletter – May 2018

Introduction

Delegates, here is the May 2018 Newsletter under the new name of the “Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils (NSW) Incorporated” as approved by the Department of Fair Trading with the acronym of MERC and new logo.

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.

Solar Farming & Energy Workshop 10th May 2018 held in Cobar

The Solar Farming workshop on Thursday 10th May 2018 IN Cobar Services Club, commenced at 1.00pm with a variety of speakers from Councils, Government and a solar product sales business speaking about how Councils can reduce energy costs and with some excellent Council examples, to balance the debate.

Also in attendance were some of the Councils from the western region that had recently been announced by the State Government as having solar farm development approvals i.e. the Mayor Balranald Shire Council, Cr Leigh Byron and General Manager Mike Kitzlemann; the Mayor Walgett Shire Council, Cr Ian Woodcock and General Manager Don Ramsland; Mayor Gilgandra Shire Council, Cr Doug Batten and Manager Economic Development, Randall Medd; Warren Shire Council, Cr Kaylene Irving and General Manager Glenn Wilcox; Liza Schipp formerly of Mid Coast Council as Director Planning & Natural Resources.

The topics and speakers were a good mix and the workshop went accordingly as follows:

  • Council Experience with Solar Farming & Energy Developments – Glenn Wilcox (Warren Shire Council and Life Member of Association);
  • Impact on Council Infrastructure from Solar and Wind Farming Projects – Michael McMahon/Chris Devitt (Dubbo Regional Council);
  • The Nevertire Solar Farm Project at Bogan Shire Council, turning the development into a Tourist attraction, a Mayor’s perspective – (Mayor, Bogan Shire Council, Nyngan, story was relayed by the Executive Officer when Ray was a last minute withdrawal);
  • Jason Robertson and Rob Ehsman, See Solar – How Councils can use solar energy for their own facilities/public safety at reduced costs versus traditional street lighting charges;
  • Renewable Energy developments in Western NSW – Ashley Albury (Department of Premier and Cabinet, Regional Director Western NSW);
  • A Department of Planning perspective about Solar Energy developments in NSW – Mike Young, (Director Resource & Energy Assessments, DPE)
  • NSW Government Energy Initiatives, etc. Hon Rick Colless (MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources and Western NSW and the Chair of the Western Mining Development Taskforce).

Over 40 delegates and speakers were in attendance at this extremely informative and interactive inaugural workshop held by the Association.  Presentations have been forwarded.

The media were well represented by Sharon Harland from The Cobar Weekly and the well known and extremely popular Sally Bryant, ABC presenter on rural issues, was in attendance who later spoke to the Chair and delegates with the interview broadcast throughout NSW on the ABC the following week. Sharon Harland from The Cobar Weekly wrote the following story, which appeared in the local paper on 16th May 2018:

“Council delegates hear a balanced debate on solar farming.

Cobar hosted the quarterly meeting of the Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils last week, which also included a workshop on Solar Farming.

The association advocates for members and their communities on mining and energy related issues to ensure activities are conducted in accordance with the principles of ecologically sustainable development.

The association’s chair Peter Shinton (Mayor of Warrumbungle Shire Council) told The Cobar Weekly the purpose of the conference was to introduce delegates to the wider field of renewable energy sources.

“We invited Councils who are embracing wind farms and solar farms and we also invited people who knew something about them. They are coming into our areas thick and fast and it’s about time we knew something about them and who to talk to,” Mr Shinton said.

Workshop speakers included representatives from Councils who had experience with solar farming and energy developments, government bodies (the Department of Planning and NSW Government Energy Initiatives) and also solar sales representatives who gave information about how Councils can reduce energy costs.

Mr Shinton said the variety of speakers at the workshop helped to balance the debate.

“You could tell by the questions asked during the workshop and some of the answers they got back, that people were really happy with the way it was organised.”

The meeting also gave members an update on the Joint Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) working party.

“It enabled us to understand the VPA pro-cesses that we are working on, and to get our template together with the Minerals Council so it can be rolled on to things like wind farms,” Mr Shinton explained.

He said currently solar farms don’t pay any VPA contributions.

“We all thought well, they don’t really upset the town for the short three of four months they are here.”

He said members were however re-thinking that after one speaker recounted their experience in a small town when 300 solar workers came in, saying the town was left short of water and the development had a large effect”

Networking Dinner on 10th May at Cobar Golf Club

Following the very sucessful workshop, over 50 delegates and partners attended the dinner in Ma’s Chinese restaurant, to talk about the presentations earlier in the day, to catch up with colleagues, and to discuss the new direction the Association is taking by including renewable energy with mining, as the way forward for securing sustainable energy, as a strong advocate for our communities affected by mining and energy related developments.

Chair Peter welcomed delegates, presenters & observers from Balranald, Warren, Gilgandra and Walgett Shire Councils and congratulated them on their presentations, participation in the workshop and attendance at our meetings and workshop. It was also good to see Hon Rick Colless and wife Geraldine, Ashley Albury (DPC) and Mike Young (DPE) attend & mingle with delegates and partners. It’s a good way to get your message across to a politician an/or senior departmental officer, the company and food wasn’t too bad either!!!

Ordinary General Meeting held on 11th May 2018

“The best attendance we have ever had at our meetings and most informative and interactive, in the last seven years or so since I have been a delegate”, one attendee said after the meeting on 11th May 2018. Three of the speakers from the day before presented new topics to discuss with delegates at the Ordinary General meeting, on the following:

  • Hon Rick Colless, MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources and Western NSW and Chair Western Mining Development Taskforce on the recent activities and direction of the Taskforce;
  • Ashley Albury, Regional Director Western NSW, Department Premier & Cabinet on Western NSW Renewable Energy Developments; and
  • Mike Young, Director Resource & Energy Assessments, Department Planning on “Preliminary Regional Issues Assessment Bancannia & Pondle Ranges Troughs, Far Western NSW” (Based on NSW Government’s Strategic Release Framework for Coal and Petroleum at Work)

Mike was particularly handy on DPE matters of interest.The meeting also extended to addressing the concerns about Resources for Regions criteria; a Marketing Plan adopted for growing the membership; Resources Advisory Forum issues; Alliance of Mining Cities Australia (AMCA); Research Fellowship; Coal Seam Gas Policy review; Panel of Consultants review and  and Voluntary Planning Agreement Joint Working Party progress report from Chris Wilson, etc –  most of these are dealt with later on in the Newsletter.

Mine Tour – 11th May Friday afternoon

A tour of the underground Peak Gold mine at Cobar by a dozen or so hardy delegates staying over for the weekend to take in sights and the Cobar races on the Saturday, took place on Friday afternoon. The mine tour was very informative, fun and a great experience for those who attended. Having to “suit up” with mining hi – vis PPE gear from top to toe was a new experience for some delegates and the gear helped address the chilly conditions. The Hon Rick Colless and wife Geraldine joined the tour and thorughly enjoyed themselves and the cameraderie. Cobar Golf Club provided the bus, organised by the Shire Council, thank you Lilliane, Peter and Janette for organising the tour and the morning tea for partners.

Next MERC meetings in Sydney 9/10th August 2018

The Executive Committee will meet at 2.00pm in the McKell Room, NSW Parliament House, on 9th August 2018. The Ordinary meeting will be held the next day on 10th August 2018 in the Preston Stanley Meeting Room, NSW Parliament House to commence from 9.00am and finish at 1.00pm with lunch.

Attendances have been very good to date, no quorum risks, since we have started having our Sydney meetings held at NSW Parliament House and informative regional meetings with a workshop in the afternoon and a networking dinner that night before the Ordinary General Meeting next day. A big thank you to you all that have made the effort, particularly to go to Cobar in the far west, it was a very succesful few days. Just make sure you help with apologies and numbers to attend for catering puproses when called for by the Executive Officer for future meetings to keep costs down.

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

A copy of the draft report from Chris Wilson was forwarded to delegates before the meetings on 10/11th May 2018 and following a briefing from the working party and discussions with delgates at the Ordinary meeting on 11th May, it was resolved that the concerns raised be put into a submission, as soon as possible, prepared by the working party to Chris Wilson prior to him submittimg the report to the DPE.

The concerns related to the following :- the need to include a cents per production non infrastructure contributions methodology; a recognition that each Council can negotiate their own contribution models; the provision of the proponent funding a “cumulative effects” study several years after the mine has commenced; the inclusion of a trigger for a VPA to be negotiated when the mine is sold; final agreement on the details in the timeline and framework for the VPA negotiations; the issue of nexus versus indirect social economic and environmental impacts; and when and how IPART is to be involved.

It was also agreed that it be included in the report that the DPE establish a steering committee consisting of NSW Minerals Council and the Association working party representatives, initiated and facilitated by the DPE, to achieve agreement on the outstanding issues, in order that the negotiations be finalised as soon as possible.

The submission was prepared by the working party and agreed to by the Executive Committee. It was forwarded to Chris Wilson on 28th May 2018 by the Executive Officer requesting a face to face meeting with the author and members of the working party from MERC to ensure clarity on the issues. The working party members are (Executive Officer, Cr Owen Hasler, Steve Loane and Cr Sue Moore appointed by the Executive Committee)

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

The Executive Officer attended a meeting in Sydney on 3rd May 2018 with the Deputy Premier, Hon John Barilaro; Member for Upper Hunter, Michael Johnsen; with the Mayors/General Managers of Singleton Council (Cr Sue Moore & Jason Linnane) and Cessnock City Council, (Cr Bob Pynsent & Steve Glen) representing Hunter Joint Organisation of Councils, to discuss the current Resources for Regions funding criteria.

The Association resolved that this meeting be held for the Chair and Executive Officer to attend and it was bundled with the Hunter Councils (who are members of MERC) by the office of the Deputy Premier. This was fortuitous as the Hunter Councils invited Steve Galilee from NSW Minerals Council to attend as well and so the Deputy Premier and his Senior advisor Gary Barnes (Deputy Secretary, Premier & Cabinet’s Department) were able to get a clear picture of our concerns with the co – contribution requirement, quantum, the Cost Benefit Analysis Ratio & initial intention of the funding for mining affected Council’s, etc.

The meeting was very positive and the Deputy Premier gave a commitment that he would review the current conditions before the next round commences, taking on board what was raised by the delegation and will look at the issues immediately and get back to the delegation as soon as possible. The current round of approved projects for Resources for Regions will be announced soon, he indicated. Since then, at the Ordinary General meeting, the Association has resolved the following:

  • the Association invite to the next Executive Committee and/or Ordinary Meeting for discussions on concerns about the current Resources for Regions criteria (i.e. cost benefit analysis, co – contribution and original intention of returning funds to the mining affected areas from where the royalties were raised, for infrastructure developments, etc) the NSW State Coalition Government, Labor, Greens and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers parties.
  • The Association write to Gary Barnes, Deputy Secretary, Department Premier and Cabinet seeking confirmation of the commitment to review the current Resources for Regions criteria given by the Hon John Barilaro, Deputy Premier, at the meeting on 3rd May 2018 held with the Association, Hunter Councils Joint Organisations of Council and’ the NSW Minerals Council before the next round of applications is called.

Since then, the Executive Officer has been contacted by Chris Hanger, NSW Infrastructure, on the changes the government is considering to make to the criteria for Resources for Regions easier to meet by Councils by decreasing the co contribution funding to 25% and including a hardship case provision, if this cant be met; introducing a Location Quotient (LQ) based on ABS 2016 statistics for mining affected areas and employment in mining activities where a Council has to get the LQ greater than 1 and if they do they don’t have to present a case that they are mining affected, if less than 1 they do; introduction of a minimum grant for the project at a scale of $1million, etc. They still want to see Councils putting in their dollars where they can! Rest of the Guidelines to be the same such as the Cost Benefit Ratio.

He sad “the government have a lot of money to allocate”. No doubt being an election lead up year, they want more Councils to receive funds for infrstructure in mining affected areas. They will be holding webinars/workshops on what they propose before the next round is announced. In the meantime, he said the current round will be announced in a few weeks!!!!

Website

The Executive Officer has been in discussion with CIBIS on the format for the new website  after going through the contents with the Executive Committee on 10th May 2018. A Log in provision for members, more photos of mining and energy activities, condensing the number of pages, captions on photos, new logo and colours, etc. Watch this space……

Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020

The Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020 was adopted at the Special General Meeting in Sydney on 23rd February 2018 with changes reflected in the minutes of the Special General Meeting 23rd February 2018, which have now been distributed to delegates. A copy of the Strategic Plan is on the website.

The Executive Officer has developed a report format (agreed to by the Executive Committee) which will be submitted to them quarterly and attached as part of the Ordinary meeting Executive Officer’s report with comments on progress with the actions therein. The same will be the case with any outstanding decisions of MERC, delegates to get the report.

Constitution Review

The amended Constitution has now been approved by the Department of Fair Trading and is posted on the web site. However there was one thing still to be finalised with the interpretation of “a minimum of two terms “ for Life Membership eligibility Clause 4.5 (is it two terms as a delegate of the Council for the term of the Council ie  two four year terms or two years as an annual appointment as the delegate of the Council for two terms?).

The Executive Committee determined at their 10th May 2018 meeting and agreed to by delegates that it be noted that the “two terms” in 4.5 Life Membership, in the constitution, refer to the nominee having been a Council delegate to the Association for a minimum period of two terms of four or three years (if amalgamated), not two annual appointments.

Next Meetings of Association for 2018 – November

We will have another round of regional meetings and a workshop in the Upper Lachlan Shire in November when its warmer!!! The Executive Officer has been discussing arrangements with the Acting General Manager for November and the Council is keen to be involved as it has the most number of wind farms in its Shire in Australia. Their Tourism and Promotions Manager is to contact the Executive Officer shortly to start the organisation of the occasion.

Speakers at future meetings

The Hon Rick Colless, MLC, who has been mentioned throughout this Newsletter, in view of his recent assistance and attendance at our meetings and workshop in Cobar, is the sponsor for MERC to have meetings at NSW Parlaiment House, plus he has also indicated if any members need any assistance in getting to the members of parliament for a meeting to contact his office for his assistance. In view of this gesture, we should have no problems getting speakers in due course from the Coalition parties.

The Executive Officer has been informed that Minister Barilaro is unavailable for 9/10th August 2018 due to electorate commitments but has indicated Gary Barnes, Deputy Secretary, Premier and Cabinet’s Department and Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen will represent him to talk about Resources for Regions criteria. This meeting was organised outside of the offer from Hon Rick Colless through Barilaro’s office.

The Labor party (Luke Foley/Adam Searle), Greens (Jeremy Buckingham/Adam Shoebridge) and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers parties (Phil Donato) will also be approached to attend future meetings as will the Clean Energy Council (Anna Freeman), Clean Energy Regulator, National Wind Alliance and Wind Farm Commissioner (Andrew Dyer) will be approached.

Membership Campaign

Wow, since the May meeting the Executive Officer has been informed that Warren and Walgett Shire Councils have resolved to join the Association and Balranald have indicated they would but are yet to resolve to do so. This will make the membership 23 again. Well done to all involved in promoting our Association.

In discussions with prominent people in Local Government, the critical point of difference and selling points of our Association are that the Association is specific on its issues; has seen there is a need to be the voice for energy for Councils; is not hampered by getting involved with the broader whole of state matters; has a seat at the table; its advice is sought by the government; we have experienced delegates on government working groups representing the members voices; we are not political and don’t have any collaborative problems within our group of dedicated delegates!

Why wouldn’t a Council join or or why would they leave, you have to ask the question are they truly representing their constituents under the Local Government Act when mining and energy issues are affecting their communities, are the legislated planning processes adequate to do this? Keep talking to your neighbours about the benefits of being a member of MERC.

The Executive Committee at its May meeting 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. The foray into wind farming in the south will again provide more opportunities to present our case for them to join us. Southern NSW and New England areas will be targeted in due course, like we have with Orana and will with the Upper Lachlan Council neighbouring areas.

Australian Mining Cities Alliance

The meeting at Cobar on 11th May 2018 provided the opportunity for the Mayor of Broken Hill City Council, Cr Darriea Turley to explain the background to the formation of the alliance and its objectives as a Federal body. They will have a stand at the ALGA Conference in Canberra later this month for those interested in more details. The Executive Officer is awaiting a detailed outline from the Acting CEO, Craig Wilson, on their objectives and arrangements for the three tiers of membership. The Association has resolved that further details be obtained & report submitted to delegates at next meeting in August when to hand.

Research Fellowship Update

Awaiting submission from University Technology Sydney for how they could be involved in an arangement with MERC via an MOU to prepare papers on specific mining and energy related topics outlined in the Strategic Plan, as a research partner in lieu of a research fellowship arrangement. They are keen to address delegates at a future meeting.

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

“Jobs a breeze for wind farm commissioner” Nicole Hasham, Sydney Morning Herald, 1st June 2018 The Commissioner’s role was established in 2015 to monitor the wind industry and respond to community complaints about turbine noise and health effects. The article says some people believe the low frequency sound of wind turbines causes health issues for nearby residents. However, the Australian Medical Association and the National Health & Medical Research Council say such claims have not been conclusively proven. He had 163 complaints relating to noise, potentioal health impacts, amenity, lack of community consultation, economic loss and flickering shadows fom wind turbines. 145 were resolved, 52 were closed as they were not pursued by the complainant. 84 were resolved by providing information. The Climate Change Authority are saying the role should be extended to address concerns aboyt solar projects. Refer www.smh.com.au

‘Adani to pay for Isaac Council staff working on Carmichael mine activities” ABC website 28th May 2018. Adani is to bankroll the Council staff to deal with the extraordinary workload created by the Cramichael mine project to the extent of $1.15m in wages, housing and vehicle costs for 4 employees to assess the project- an executive and legal support officer, a senior engineering manager and two field officers. This is supported by  LGA Qld siad the deal was lawful and above board. Anti corruption think tank Transparency International Australia think otherwise. Same deal occurred in Gladstone’s 3 LNG Plants project for several Councils a few years ago. Recent negotiations for a VPA with  a proponent near Fifield, NSW, Forbes, Lachlan and Parkes Shire Councils will receive a “Project Facilitation Contribution” of $30k pa to be used for management and administrative costs if needed during the 2-3 year construction phase. Refer www.abc.org.au

‘AGL plans pumped hydro after Liddell” Cole Latimer and Peter Hannam, Sydney Morning Herald 26-27Th May 2018 “AGL is working wth Japanese company Idemitsu to transform a Hunter Valley coal mine into a pumped hydro storage power plant to replace energy lost when AGL closes the Liddell power station in 2022. Issues AGL could face in turning a coal mine into pumped hydro storage are that it is not deep enough to have significant water flowing and coal dust in the water. Refer www.smh.com.au

Contact

If you have any queries in relation to this newsletter please do not hesitate to contact the Chair or the Executive Officer to see how we can assist you in your busy role as a Council delegate to the Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils.

Our contacts are:- Chair, Clr Peter Shinton, by email peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservice.com.au or info@miningrelatedCouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

 

Greg Lamont                                                                                      Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                                               Chair

MERC Newsletter – April 2018

Introduction

Delegates, here is the April 2018 Newsletter under the new name of the “Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils (NSW) Incorporated” as approved by the Department of Fair Trading with the acronym of MERC.

Our new logo (Option B with amendments to the wording so it reads “Mining and Energy” in large letters to emphasise our focus on Mining & Energy and underneath it has “Related Councils NSW” next to the green symbol on the left) was also agreed to after much debate by delegates.The logo will soon be on our website and correspondence, when to hand.

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.

Next Meetings in Cobar 10/11th May 2018

The Executive Committee will meet at 9.00am in the Cobar RSL on 10TH May. The Workshop on Solar Farming commences at 1.00pm in the Auditorium at the Cobar RSL Club on 10th May 2018. The Ordinary meeting will be held the next day on 11th May 2018 in the Cobar RSL Club Auditorium to commence from 9.00am and finish at 1.00pm with lunch.

The Solar Farming workshop on Thursday 10th May 2018 will commence at 1.00pm with a variety of speakers from Councils, Government and even have a solar sales business speaking about how Councils can reduce energy costs and with some excellent Council examples, to balance the debate.

A list ot speakers is as follows:

  • Introduction of Speakers and Purpose of Workshop – Greg Lamont (Executive Officer MERC);
  • Council Experience with Solar Farming & Energy Developments – Glenn Wilcox (Warren Shire Council and Life Member of Association);
  • Impact on Council Infrastructure from Solar and Wind Farming Projects – Michael McMahon/Chris Devitt (Dubbo Regional Council);
  • The Nevertire Solar Farm Project at Bogan Shire Council, turning the development into a Tourist attraction, a Mayor’s perspective – Clr Ray Donald (Mayor, Bogan Shire Council, Nyngan);
  • Jason Robertson, See Solar – How Councils can use solar energy for their own facilities/public safety at reduced costs versus traditional street lighting charges;
  • Renewable Energy developments in Western NSW – Ashley Albury (Department of Premier and Cabinet, Regional Director Western NSW);
  • A Department of Planning perspective about Solar Energy developments in NSW – Mike Young, (Director Resource & Energy Assessments, DPE)
  • NSW Government Energy Initiatives, etc. Hon Rick Colless (MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources and Western NSW and Chair Western Mining Development Taskforce).

Mayor/Councillors and General Managers of Balranald, Warren, Gilgandra and Walgett Shires have accepted invitations to attend the workshop, network dinner on 10th May 2018 and Ordinary meeting next day on 11th May 2018.

This is what MERC set out to achieve by inviting those Councils on Minister Roberts’ recent media release on solar developments in the Western Area that were not members of MERC but may potentially become a member. Some Councils did not respond, we will do the same for the wind farming workshop in November.

Attendance at Next meetings and Workshop 10/11th May 2018

Attendances have been excellent for the 10/11th May events, with only three Councils not being able to attend due to pre set budget sessions. We have 45 for the workshop, 40 for the network dinner and similar for the Ordinary meeting on the 11th May 2018, a fantastic effort by all involved.In the afternoon after the meeting we have close to a dozen for the mine tour and races next day.

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

A meeting was held in Sydney on 23rd February 2018 after the Ordinary meeting with Chris Wilson, consultant appointed by the DPE (agreed to by the NSW Minerals Council and MERC to the VPA Joint Working Party). In attendance were consultant Warwick Giblin and our delegates, Clr Owen Hasler and Steve Loane to update Chris on progress with the Joint VPAWP for his report to the DPE which was due by mid April 2018. A copy of the draft report has been circulated to delegates and the MERC working party will brief the Executive Committee on the report for a recommendation to delegates to consider. Warwick has reviewed the report and forwarded comments to the working party.

The DPE are keen to capture the information agreed by the respective parties and include it in the Guidelines on VPA’S as a Practice Note or similar, but needed to have an independent interview the parties and write the report for them to consider given the opposed arguments and political sensitivities.This is a very important document for MERC to review and agree on our position to ensure Councils are not disadvantaged with the options.

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

The Executive Officer attended a meeting in Sydney on 3rd May 2018 with the Deputy Premier, Hon John Barilaro; Member for Upper Hunter, Michael Johnsen; with the Mayors/General Managers of Singleton Council (Cr Sue Moore & Jason Linnane) and Cessnock City Council, (Cr Bob Pynsent & Steve Glen) representing Hunter Joint Organisation of Councils, to discuss the current Resources for Regions funding criteria.

The Association resolved that this meeting be held for the Chair and Executive Officer to attend and it was bundled with the Hunter Councils (who are members of MERC) by the office of the Deputy Premier. This was fortuitous as the Hunter Councils invited Steve Galilee from NSW Minerals Council to attend as well and so the Deputy Premier and his Senior advisor Gary Barnes (Premier & Cabinet’s Department) were able to get a clear picture of our concerns with the co – contribution requirement, quantum, the BCR and initial intention of the funding for mining affected Council’s, etc.

The meeting was very positive and the Deputy Premier gave a committment that he would review the current conditions before the next round commences, taking on board what was raised by the delegation and will look at the issues immediately and get back to the delegation as soon as possible. The current round of approved projects for Resources for Regions will be announced soon, he indicated.

Website

The Executive Officer has been in discussion with CIBIS on the format for the new website  and will be presenting the draft format to Executive Committee to consider with the aim to have it finalised by the May meetings in Cobar. A draft of the proposed changes has been distributed to members of the Executive Committee to consider before their meeting on 10th May 2018.

Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020

The Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020 was adopted at the Special General Meeting in Sydney on 23rd February 2018 with changes reflected in the minutes of the Special General Meeting 23rd February 2018, which have now been distributed to delegates. A copy of the Strategic Plan is on the website.

The Executive Officer has developed a report format (agreed to by the Executive Committee) which will be submitted to them quarterly as part of the Ordinary meeting Executive Officer’s report with comments on progress with the actions therein.

Constitution Review

The amended Constitution has now been approved by the Department of Fair Trading and is posted on the web site. However there is one thing still to be finalised whereby the Executive Committee will consider the interpretation of “a minimum of two terms “ for Life Membership eligibility Clause 4.5 (is it two terms as a delegate of the Council for the term of the Council ie  two four year terms or two years as an annual appointment as the delegate of the Council for two terms?), for discussion by the Executive Committee at their 10th May meeting and recommendation to delegates.

Next Meetings of Association for 2018 – August and November

Arrangements have been made to have the August Executive Committee and Ordinary General Meeting in Sydney at Parliament House again on 9/10th August 2018. We will have another regional meeting in the Upper Lachlan Shire in November when its warmer!

The Executive will decide on the date for the November 2018 meetings and workshop in consultation with the Upper Lachlan Council at Crookwell or a larger Council in the region for the wind farming developments workshops and membership drive. The Upper Lachlan Shire Council have been approached and details provided on what is required, awaiting confrimation of participation.

Membership Campaign

Warren Shire Council could not attend our Sydney meeting but have resolved to send a Councillor and General Manager (Glenn Wilcox, Life Member of the Association) to our next meeting in Cobar as observers and then to report back to their Council on whether to join the Association or not. They have a very large solar farm development proposed for construction at Nevertire on Mitchell Highway, near Warren and are interested in being part of our voice.

The observer from Mid Coast Council, (M/s Lisa Schiff, Director Planning and Natural Resources) that attended our meeting in Sydney on 23rd February 2018 has reported that Mid Coast Council has resolved to become being a member of the Association, in view of coal mining development expansion in the Gloucester area which is now part of Mid Coast Council and the strategic direction of MERC. Hopefully the Solar Farm workshop and meetings at Cobar 10/11th May 2018 result in Balranald, Warren, Gilgandra and Walgett all joining the Association.

In discussions with prominent people in Local Government, the critical point of difference and selling points of our Association are that the Association is specific on its issues; has seen there is a need to be the voice for energy for Councils; is not hampered by getting involved with broader whole of state matters; has a seat at the table; its advice is sought by the government; we have experienced delegates on government working groups representing the members voices; we are not political and don’t have any collaborative problems within our group of dedicated delegates!

Why wouldn’t a Council join or or why would they leave, you have to ask the question are they truly representing their constituents under the Local Government Act when mining and energy issues are affecting their communities, are the legislated planning processes adequate to do this? Keep talking to your neighbours about the benefits of being a member of MERC.

The Executive Committee at its May meeting is to consider the adoption of a Marketing Policy to ensure membership increases by targeting more renewable energy development affected LGA’s in NSW. A Draft Membership Marketing Policy has been prepared for the Executive Committee to consider on 10th May 2018 in order to formalise and stregthen the membership campaign.

Southern NSW and New England areas will be targeted, like we have with Orana and Upper Lachlan Council areas.

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

“Solar run drinking water trialled” Cole Latimer in the SMH 30TH April 2018 talks about a solar powered device that creates clean drinking water from the air is being trialled in Australia. The water produced has been tested to Australian drinking water contaminant guidelines. The portable Source Hydropanels, created by Zero Mass Water, are designed to suck moisture from the air, dehumidifying it to drain the water out before it purifies and adds minerals to the water. It is powered solely by attached solar arrays. Depending on the climate the panels can create up to 5 litres of potable water a day.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing about $420k in funding to help deploy 150 of the solar powered drinking water systems across Australia, in order to trial its ability to act as a source of water for drought stricken regions as well as reducing waste caused by plastic water bottles. Further details www.smh.com.au.  Plus the CEO of ARENA Ivor F if you follow them on their website contacts.

“Big Windfall from Wind” Jamieson Murphy in the Northern Daily Leader, 28th April 2018 writes about a recent report by the Australian Wind Alliance (AWA) which estimates $10.5 billion could be delivered to host communities accross the 25 year life span of the nations existing wind farms and wind farms under construction. AWA National Coordinator, Andrew Bray said “wind power was making a long lasting contribution to rural Australia’s socila fabric. They support small towns to do that important work, often through volunteers that’s keeps the town ticking along……….” The Sapphire Wind Farm near Inverell contributes $187k a year through its community enhancement fund and White Rock near Glen Innes $175k. Refer www.northerndailyleader.com.au

VPA Funded Road Between NSW Government and Dart West Almost Complete – Ministerial Media Release Department Planning, 10th April 2018

“Construction of the $45 million Gregory Hills Drive-Badgally Road link road is now complete thanks to a voluntary planning agreement between the NSW Government and Dart West. 

Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts, said this road provides a key link between the strategic centres of Camden and Campbelltown. 

“Now this link road is fully operational it ensures that residents and those driving to work have an easier journey around south-west Sydney,” Mr Roberts said. “A voluntary planning agreement between our government and Gregory Hills developers Dart West has enabled this key four-lane road to be constructed providing connectivity for the whole of the Macarthur area. 

“This road also gives residents direct access to Campbelltown and the railway station via Badgally Road.” Camden MP Chris Patterson said this is an example of how governments and developers can work effectively for the public good. “This planning agreement has guaranteed that the Macarthur community got this key link road to the Hume Highway and M5 faster,” Mr Patterson said.“Already we have seen traffic congestion reduced due to the 5km link road.” 

General Manager of Dart West Developments, David Taylor, said since the initial connection linking existing sections of Gregory Hills and Badgally Road was made in October last year residents have noted an improvement in traffic flows. “The opening of all four lanes of traffic will only just improve congestion in the road network,” Mr Taylor said. “Dart West is proud to have delivered this road and believe it will have a lasting legacy for Gregory Hills and the wider Camden and Campbelltown communities for many years to come.”

 Could the Winds of Change be blowing through the Sourthern Highlands?

I’m no expert, but I have passion and a vision. The passion is driven by my long held belief in chasing better ways to do things. The vision is to see the Highlands community support a renewable energy project that provides clean energy, creates local jobs, and produces good investment returns for Highlanders.

Can this be done? Simple answer – yes. How? We learn from other successful projects that are already up and running. It really is “join the dots” stuff. No need to reinvent the wheel. We simply stand on the shoulders of others. So who has already done this? 

A community group in Victoria – Hepburn Wind – that was established in 2007, and who have built two wind turbines of 4.1MW capacity (enough to power over 2,000 homes). 

The group is community owned, has become profitable in the last two years, has paid back more than $3.5mn in bank loans since 2011 (that were related to the project construction costs), and has contributed over $100,000 to community projects.  Hepburn Winds is a model for other communities with its strong focus on community engagement and regional economic benefits

A community group in Goulburn – Community Energy 4 Goulburn – established in 2014, is proposing to build a solar farm of 1.2MW capacity near Goulburn. This project has been confirmed by a feasibility study and is on the verge of seeking investment from the local community so they can start construction soon.

We can do this in the Southern Highlands. Many people have investigated the possibilities, but so far we have not been able to get a project going. 

On Friday, April 20 from 5.30pm, at a renewable energy forum at The Mill in Bowral, we will have the opportunity to hear from people who were integral to each of these projects, and who can help us understand how we too can realize our CORE (community renewable energy) values. 

Our guests from Hepburn Wind – Neville Oddie and Kate Redwood – will talk about how the group, which raised $9.8m to build the facility, was established as a model for other communities with its strong focus on community engagement, regional economic benefits, local jobs, community empowerment and capacity building.

The president of Community Energy 4 Goulburn venture, Ed Suttle will also be in attendance. CE4G, is a committee of eight members who have taken the proposal of a community solar powered farm from concept to imminent build. For more info see http://herd.org.au/events/

The event will be hosted by Highlands Entrepreneurs Regional Development (known as HERD), which is in the process of establishing the Southern Highlands based incubator and accelerator.

HERD will build on the pools of talent and experience that exist in the Southern Highlands and work to attract innovative businesses to the region. Their focus is to catalyse new and scalable businesses supported by a vital innovation ecosystem within the Southern Highlands.

They intend to do this through partnering with University of Wollongong’s iAccelerator program, along with The Mill to deliver a collaborative work environment and through the facilitation of access to funds and critical expertise for early stage businesses to foster and accelerate their growth. If you wish to partner with HERD or become involved please get in touch.  Phone: 041432164 or email: info@herd.org.au.

(Refer Journalist – Andrew Forbes Southern Highland News, 10th April 2018).

 GFG Alliance officially purchases Tahmoor Mine

In great news for Macarthur miners, GFG Alliance has today completed its acquisition of the Tahmoor coking coal mine previously owned by Glencore.

The mine is now officially under the ownership of GFG’s SIMEC Mining division following ministerial approval. The Tahmoor mine – which employs more than 300 people – produces about two million tonnes of coking coal each year. The coal is used for primary steel making in blast furnaces in Australia and across the globe. GFG executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta said the mine was highly regarded in domestic and international markets for its grade and quality.

“I am delighted to welcome the Tahmoor mine employees and surrounding community into our GFG family,” he said “The acquisition of the Tahmoor mine is an exciting step forward in our strategy to create fully-integrated, end-to-end businesses in Australia, from raw material and energy right through to high-value finished products ready for market.

“Through this purchase, we secure and de-risk an important feed for the Whyalla Steelworks. This, together with our iron ore mines in South Australia, now makes GFG the only fully-integrated Australian steel producer, whether from iron ore and coking coal to primary steel, or from scrap metal and renewable energy to GREENSTEEL.”

(Refer Wollondilly Advertiser 20th April 2018). Thanks to Clr Michael Banasik for forwarding these articles, more welcome for delegates relating to your LGA’s. 

Contact

 If you have any queries in relation to this newsletter please do not hesitate to contact the Chair or the Executive Officer to see how we can assist you in your busy role as a Council delegate to the Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils.

Our contacts are:- Chair, Clr Peter Shinton, by email peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservice.com.au or info@miningrelatedcouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

 

Greg Lamont                                                                                     Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                                               Chair