AMRC NEWSLETTER – 31st July 2017

Introduction

Delegates, here is the July 2017 Newsletter for your information, 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 related matters.

Next Meeting in Sydney 10/11th August 2017

In the meantime, the August Ordinary meeting will be at Rydges Sydney Central, 28 Albion St, Surry Hills, from 9.30am on 11th August 2017 on the ground floor in the Riley room to the left of reception. The Executive Committee will meet the day before at 3.00pm in the Board Room also on the ground floor.

Speakers arranged are Minister for Planning and Housing, the Hon Anthony Roberts who has accepted our invitation to address delegates on changes to planning legislation affecting mining and energy related councils in NSW, etc; Sarah Jardine, Senior Policy Officer Land and Water Commissioner to do a presentation on the Mining Activity Reports now being developed by them and James Marshall, Group Manager Community Engagement from Centennial Coal who has completed a project on what social impacts the 2015 Springvale Colliery Standown (8 weeks whilst the PAC reviewed the extension of the mine) had on their employees and the Lithgow and district community economy, and he wants to present the results to the Association – this will be of interest given our work on the VPA to date.

Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party (VPAWP)

As per the resolution of the Association at its May Ordinary meeting, the Executive of the Association have engaged Warwick Giblin of Oz Environmental, to develop a case for “a percentage of the price of mineral product sold to market by the proponent” to be paid to Council, as a Voluntary Planning Agreement contribution to be used by Councils for public benefit. This will embrace coal, gold, copper, tin, zinc, agricultural lime, lead, scandium, etc.

At this stage, Warwick has recommended that the quantum for energy production such as wind farms, gasfields and solar farms, not be addressed in this process, as there is already a quantum measure for wind farms accepted by most proponents and Councils, such as $1250 plus CPI multiplied by the Installed Capacity in megawatts, which can be applied to these other renewable sources.

The scope of work will explore a means to calculate a percentage of the price of the mineral product sold by the miner and other options such as CapEx and a combination of these and the Worker Domicile model preferred by the NSW Minerals Council. He will consider the current royalty rate charged by the NSW Government on miners for the right to mine a public resource.

Warwick has distributed a Draft paper to the Executive and members of the VPA Working Party for input and will present his thoughts to the delegates at our August meeting after the Minister and presenters finish before finalising the document. Thereafter then its back to the Joint VPA Working Party and NSW Minerals Council (NSWMC) before their Board meeting mid September 2017, hopefully this will be with agreement on the options for inclusion in the VPA Guidelines. The NSW Mineral Council’s Board preferred position on Social Impact calculations is based on the Worker Domicile Model.

Regional Independent Assessment Panel (RIAP) & Resources for Regions

The Association is awaiting confrimation of the appointment of a delegate on the Regional Independent Panel Assessment that will consider applications for Resources for Regions.The CEO from NSWMC and the former Executive Officer of the Association were on the Panel only to review Resources for Regions applications. The Panel makes recommendations to the Minister on who were to receive grants (against set criteria) as independents.

The State Government has $1.3billion available in its Regional Growth Fund and details of the Resources for Regions component are as follows:

“Expressions of interest for the latest funding round for the Resources for Regions program will close on 18 August 2017, and all eligible local councils are encouraged to apply.
Resources for Regions helps mining-affected local councils activate their economies and deliver the services their communities deserve. The funds can be invested in projects to build or upgrade road and rail infrastructure, water and sewerage systems, as well as social infrastructure such as childcare centres.
The Department of Premier and Cabinet has developed an online slide presentation to assist local councils better understand the Resources for Regions application and assessment process: visit www.nsw.gov.au/resourcesforregions. Since 2012, Resources for Regions has allocated more than $230 million to 42 projects right across NSW, and a further $50 million was allocated to the program in the June Budget. Progress to date:

  • the fund has allocated $8 million for the replacement of Cobar’s water treatment plant in Cobar;
  • Narrabri received $6 million to upgrade its airport;
  • almost $20 million has been invested in Stage 2 of the Muswellbrook Hospital redevelopment;
  • tens of millions have been invested in road upgrades, bridge replacements and central business district renewals.” (Source Media Release 4th August Office Regional Development – regionalnsw.business@dpc.nsw.gov.au)

Website

The website is a work in progress and the focus has been on getting more relevant information on the site such as minutes, submissions, Newsletters, etc. The Executive Officer had a meeting with the website designer in June to obtain costings on how the monthly Newsletter can be web based with internet links rather than a word document from the Executive Officer and discussions were held on a review of the website to condense it, remove old photos, look at modernising it, make the website more user friendly and so on.

An update on options has been submitted to the Executive Committee to note as the Executive Officer and website manager further discusses options, details will be reported to the Executive Committee for consideration in due course.

Review of Strategic Framework (Plan) 2017 – 2020

The Chair of the Working Party (established to review the Strategic Framework 2013 – 2016 for the Association) Councillor Chris Connor, has completed the draft Strategic Plan  2017 – 2020. Councillor Connor has sought input from the Working Party members on the latest content. The Chair will outline the details of final draft to delegates at the August meeting.

VPA Working Party Visits

If any council would like to know more about the background to the VPA Working Party, progress with negotiations and how the models proposed for Road and Non Road impact calculations, the timelines and the proposed Guidelines will work, please contact the Executive Officer. Arrangements can be made to do a presentation to your council or its relevant staff to assist, by members of the Association’s VPA Working Party.

Several enquiries have already been received by Councils for this to occur. However the presentation to the delegates on 11th August 2017 on the VPA Quantum for Social & Economic Impacts paper will provide a more complete picture of the overall process as it is virtually down to seeking agreement on the “Non Road impact” calculations options with NSWMC.

Constitution Review

With the review of the Strategic Plan 2017 – 2020 and it’s adoption, it will be necessary to conduct a Special General Meeting to make changes to the Constitution for name changes, details in clauses therein relating to “mining and energy related” matters. As well it has been has been suggested by delegates at meetings that a Treasurer function be developed and changes to Clause 4.6 Representation (currently a delegate cannot be nominated by a member council if he/she has any association, commercial agreement or contract with a mining company – no doubt this will aslo include energy related associations, agreements or contracts) for consideration by the Association in November.

Membership Campaign

The Executive Officer has developed a comprehensive membership proposal consisting of six pages outlining the history of the Association, its proposed new direction in the Draft Strategic Plan for the next three years, with a cost benefit analysis, its achievements, the seat at the table, strong voice for the community, offer to meet with Councils, etc. Meetings have been held with several Councils and correspondence received from interested Councils indicating potentially they may be interested in membership, but nothing has been confirmed to date from any of them. Any leads will be followed up by the Executive Officer.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) State Significant projects

The Department of Planning has developed a Guidance Series to implement a range of initiatives including earlier and better engagement with the community, ensuring that the EIA focusses on the most important issues, providing more information about project change processes following approval and greater accountability for those preparing EIS’s. There are nine documents on exhibition outlining the different elements of EIA for State Significant projects in NSW and can be found at www.planning.nsw.gov.au/EIAreview

Workshops are being held throughout the state and attendees must register to particpate. You do this by going into eiaproject.eventbrite.com.au, as shown on their email. To contact the Department Staff ring 1300305695 or email EIAproject@planning.com.au. Public submissions close on 1st September 2017.

An additional workshop is to be held in Dubbo on 17th August 2017, 11.00am to 1.30pm Quality Inn, Whylandra St, Dubbo to enable North West, Central West and Far Western Councils to attend to assist with travel costs and the tyranny of distance. It is suggested that Councils send representatives to support the decision by the Department to have another workshop after the lobbying that was undertaken. Delegates will need to register. The Executive Officer will be in attendance at the Dubbo workshop.

The Executive Committee will consider engaging Oz Environmental at its meeting on 10th August 2017, to prepare a submission on behalf of members as the EIA State significant development Guidelines embrace the previous submissions prepared by the consultant on EPA Act 1979 changes, Social Impact Assessments, etc.

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

“Sunshine Coast Council Launches own $50 million Solar Farm” The press have been busy singing the praises of the Sunshine Coast Council, north of Brisbane in Southern Queensland, recently. Local Government Professionals Australia have done the same with the following commentary released recently in their eNews article “Taking the strengths of Australian Local Government to the world” as follows:

First on the home front, a big shoutout to the Sunshine Coast Council which is truly living up to it’s name with the launch of its $50 million solar farm. The farme will fully offset all the council’s power needs, and by taking control of it’s electricity supply to combat rising electricity costs into the future. According to the Mayor Mark Jameison, the farm is the first to connect to th electricity grid in south – east Queensland an is expected to deliver $22 million in savings (after costs) for ratepayers over the next 30 years. Nice work.”

“Subsidised mines would be a $10 billion hit to the NSW budget”  This was the headline in the Sydney Morning Herald, 17th July 2017 under “Resources – Queensland supply would slash prices” as the by line, written by Matt Wade, he says inter alia….The NSW government stands to lose more than $10billion in mining royalties between 2023 and 2035 if the proposed Adani mine and other coal projects in Queensland’s Galilee Basin go ahead, new research shows. Economic modelling by the well known resource analytics firm Wood Mackenzie found new coal supply from new mines in the Galilee Basin would reduce the price of coal by 25% and cut NSW coal exports by about 80 million tonnes per year. This will reduce royalties by $10.2 billion to 2035. In a statement to the Herald, a spokesperson for the NSW Minister for Resources, Don Harwin said:

“NSW is operating in a global coal export industry and produces high quality coal that is exported mainly to Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan. The Division of Resources and Geosciences advises that as the Adani project is planned to export to India, the project wont affect NSW exports as our state has national exports to India”

This statement is contradicted by the Wood Mackenzie analysis, the article said, as price changes in one grade of coal are almost immediately passed onto other grades. Refer www.smh.com.au.

Grazing study on mine sites” In an article in News, North West Magazine on 12th July 2017, it was reported that a grazing study in the Hunter Valley could have implications elsewhere. The Department of Primary Industries (DPI), three and half year study of beef grazing on rehabilitated mine pastures has confirmed growth of improved pastures provides increased livestock productivity compared to original native pastures. The study was initiated by the Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue seeking an answer to the question – can rehabilated mine land sustainably support productive and profitable livestock grazing?

The article went on to conclude that “Outcomes from this study will assist the mining industry to identify targets for rehabilitation and perhaps changes to rehabilitation practices”. For more details refer to www.northwestmagazine.com.au

Coal cash could boomerang” Mike Foley, the Land, 20th July 2017, in his article said “when is $262 million in government spending not worth $262m? That will be when, and if, Chinese miner Shenhua forks out for a mining licence. The NSW government paid Shenhua $262m for half the Watermark exploration licence, which Shenhua bought for $300m in 2008.

Exploration conditions set a $200m mining fee for a mining licence, which is required if the mine progresses from exploration into production. Shenhua has not yet applied for a mining licence. NSW Resources Minister Don Harwin has been keen to emphasise this point. That means if Shenhua decides to build its mine and shells out $200m for its licence, NSW government would be $62m out of pocket. Shenhua would be $200m ahead and the mine plan would remain unaltered. Essentially, what government has bought is surety Shenhua will not mine the black soil of the Liverpool Plains.

This prompts the question, was the $262m buyback necessary? The Department of Planning, the ultimate consent authority, could achieve the same outcome by ruling mining the black soil  is unacceptable, and future applications to do so would be rejected.” Refer www.theland.com.au

Great Power Gouge” In the The Daily Telegraph on 27th July 2017, Matthew Benns writes under the by line “How energy companies are cashing in on your electricity bill misery” when he says:

The three energy companies that supply power to NSW are banking hundreds of millions of dollars in profits while arecord number of suburban families are on the verge of having their light turned off due to soaring electricty prices. The Daily Telegraph can reveal that the executives of AGL, Origin Energy and Energy Australia are enjoying bumper seven figure salaries, as the number of management and sales staff around them rise by up to 400 per cent. It comes as experts say the cost of gas and coal makes up just 3 and 5 per cent of household electricity bills. And the price the electricity companies pay to buy power on the wholesale market is actually predicted to drop substantially……One of the biggest costs households are paying for is actually so companies can retain customers otherwise known as advertisng!” For full details see www.dailytelegraph.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 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 – Executive Officer  

Clr Peter Shinton – Chair

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