Delegates, here is the March 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.
Expanding the Association
There is a lot of press circulating about renewable energy options given the seious energy issues experienced in the recent South Australian black outs; the establishment of possible battery plants to assist; wind farms popping up in Western NSW; solar farms built in Nyngan, Moree, Broken Hill and potentially at Walgett, Gilgandra and Warren Shires; new mining likely to open up in Dubbo (rare earths), Armidale (antimony), Coolamon (tin) and Glen Innes (tin) and expansions at Nyngan, Cobar (metals) and Narrabri (coal).
Then there is the Coal Seam Gas in the Pilliga, a possible power station at Boggabri and the Snowy Mountain Hydro Scheme and a review of the Resources for Regions eligibility criteria forecast. As they say in the clasics its all happening and to watch this space!
A question to ponder – should only those councils that are members of the Association of Mining Related Councils be the recipients of Resources for Regions funding to look after regional and remote communities affected by mining related activities or not?
It has been mentioned in conversations among delegates in recent times informally, that it might be time for the Association of Mining Related Councils to consider a name change and to consider expanding its scope to embrace the need for councils in NSW to have a stronger voice on not just mining related non renewable matters but renewable energy matters; provide assistance with Planning Agreements; utilise the experience of mining related councils that are members of the Association and sit at the table when renewable and non renewable energy options are discussed by the Federal and State governments.
There are no other entities out their representing their communities in any of these matters like the Association of Mining Reklated Councils has the potential to, other than perhaps LGNSW in a broad policy sense, there is a window of opportunity here to consider in due course.
Perhaps it is time for the Association to look at other options such as reviewing our constitution (which has been done to move from coal to metalifferous in the past) and to consider renaming to the Association of Mining and Energy Related Councils or similar.
Food for thought!
Attendance at Meetings
Because of all the busy schedules of councils, we need your help as we still need an idea of who is attending meetings, which affects the catering costs as you know these days are usually signed off on estimated numbers weeks before and this could be significant if the majority of Council delegates don’t attend. If you can, please have your Executive Assistants let the Executive Officer know when you can’t attend meetings with plenty of notice.
There is also the issue of having a quorum for our meetings. With the uniqueness of our membership, the tyranny of distance is always a problem for us to deal with.
Our constitution states that a quorum is more than half the number of member councils in attendance i.e. at least 11 councils to be represented at tha Ordinary meeting is the quorum. If not present, then the meeting has to be deferred for an hour and after that set down at a later date and place by the Chair or the Executive deals with the business, hopefully we will never get to this.
I look forward to seeing you all at future meetings for your important input and debate, in particular Broken Hill.
Next Meeting to be in Broken Hill 11/12th May 2017
The next Executive Committee and Ordinary meetings of AMRC is in Broken Hill on 11th/12th May 2017. Details on accommodation and travel options have been circulated in a previous email to delegates by the Executive Officer.
The Executive Committee will meet in the morning (TBA) of 11th May 2017, in the Musicians Club, minutes will be circulated before the Ordinary meeting next day. A mine tour is usually organised and we are trying to get a tour of the Cristal Sands Separation Plant.
The networking dinner that night will be held at the Astra, corner Argent and Crystal Streets, around seven to seven thirty, bar facilities are available beforehand, with Ordinary meeting next morning being held at the Musicians Club, in Crystal Street on the 12th, where we have morning tea and lunch before departing.
Hope to see you all there, Broken Hill has a lot of mining history of national interest, should be an informative and interesting occasion.
Submission on EPA Act Changes presented on 31st March 2017
Consultant Warwick Giblin of Oz Environmental assisted the Association with the preparation of our submission to Department of Planning on the poposed changes to the Environment Assessment and Planning (EPA) Act on how it may affect your LGA.
The Association presented its submission on 31st March 2017, commenting on the proposed changes to the EPA Act and this has been forwarded separately by email for your information and posted on the DPE and AMRC websites.
The documents referred to can be accessed by going to the Department of Planning and Environment website:-http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au and look at legislative updates, consultation periods, topics and submission dates, etc.
Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party (VPAWP)
The next meeting of the VPAWP has been put on hold until meetings with the Chairs of NSW Minerals Council and AMRC and Executive Officers and Working Party are held to discuss differences in the negotiations on the VPA plus working closely on Resources for Regions eligibility criteria and other matters of interest. Suggested date is 28th April in Sydney, yet to be confirmed.
There is still more to do with a cents per tonne model by the AMRC versus the NSWMC worker domicile model and clarity on the use of IPART as an umpire, when are they involved, who pays and the legal substance of the documents, which needs to be agreed to by the parties and to fit in with with NSW State Government changes, so busy times ahead getting this sorted.
In discussions with NSWMC, they are keen to meet and dates are being considered for late April and prior to that have requested that the VPAWP prepare a written proposal on matters to consider at that meeting which will include the above plus other issues such as Resources for Regions grants only be allocated to members of AMRC and so forth.
The VPAWP is to meet beforehand with the AMRC Chair to develop the items and arguments for alternate models to the NSWMC preferred worker domicile model and other matters of interest outlined.
Resources for Regions Advisory Group (RFRAG)
Clr Hasler attended another RFRAG meeting on 16th March 2017 and when he reports back to delegates in May at the Broken Hill meeeting, the results of his submission to them on the proposed changes and reactions from staff to his questions will be outlined.
When his submission and questions, answers are to hand they will be forwarded to all delegates.
Regional Independent Assessment Panel (RIAP)
At the March 2017 meeting of AMRC, it was requested that the Executive Officer make enquiries as to the status of an AMRC delegate being represented on this panel and the background to it. Preliminary enquiries and minutes have revealed that it appears that the panel has been established to independently review projects being funded by the NSW State government for projects such as Resources for Regions and Water and Waste Water backlog Program for Infrastructure NSW, and other infrastructure projects, etc.
Documentation from the minutes of 19th May 2016 in AMRC records reveal that the panel at the time consisted of Roger Fletcher (Chair), Fiona Simson (ex Clr Liverpool Plains Shire Council and National Farmers Federation), Jenny Davis (?), Derek Schoen (NSW Farmers), Richie Williamson (?), Stephen Galilee (NSWMC), Don Tydd (AMRC), Chris Hanger (NSW Department of Industry), Naomi Dinnen(?) and Ray Calligeros OCM (Probity Audit).
Enquiries are continuing as to the background, status and if an AMRC delegate is to be part of this panel. Delegates will be updated in due course.
The website is a work in progress and the focus has been on getting more relevant information on the site such as minutes, submissions, etc.
Changes to delegates has been rectified and if there are any other discrepancies or ideas on its format please contact the Executive Officer who will organise to adjust the details and consider all options.
Photographs will be changed as they evolve such as a photo of chair Shinton and Deputy Chair Connor with Shadow Minister Adam Searle at the meeting on 2nd March 2017.
Review of Strategic Framework (Plan) 2017 – 2020
A working party has been established to review the 2013 – 2016 Strategic Framework.
The chair and convener will be AMRC Deputy Chair Coal Cr Chris Connor, the members of the working party appointed on 2nd March 2017 are:-
- Cr Melanie Dagg, Cessnock City Council
- Cr Michael Banasik, Wollondilly Shire Council
- Cr James Nolan, Broken Hill City Council
- Glen Wilcox, Lachlan Shire Council
- Jason Linnane, Singleton Shire Council
A lot of preliminary information was presented to the Executive Committee on 1st March 2017 by the Executive Officer to assist the working party. A draft will be presented to the August Ordinary meeting in Sydney.
Related Matters of Interest
DPE Social Impact Assessment – Draft Guidelines for State Significant mining, petroleum production and extractive industry development
Warwick Giblin of Oz Environmental has sent an email attaching submissions from Yancoal, NSW Minerals Council (NSWMC) and Muswellbrook Shire Council to the AMRC Executive Committee members, in relation to the above Department of Planning and Environment public exhibition documents and whilst all submissions are all on the DPE portal, the Executive Officer has copies of these documents, if you would like to have them forwarded.
Yancoal are supportive of meaningful engagement but are concerned about the proposed role of the community being more heavily involved in setting the parameters of the assessment process for State Significant Developments (SSD’S) when the specialists in the DPE should be dealing with the issues raised and not giving more responsibility to the community to be involved.
NSWMC shared the view of Yancoal but went further and wanted the community being involved deleted from the Guidelines and an assurance given that the DPE staff had adequate skills to be able to assess the Social Impacts Assessment and more scenarios included on how it will all work.
NSWMC argue that mining developments do not displace significant numbers of people in NSW, the displacement is minmal and dispersed and have obviously not considered what happened to Dunedoo with the buy up of farms, families left town never to return and the mine did not proceed!
Muswellbrook Shire Council put forward similar arguments to that of the Association and pushed the argument that the affectations on the social fabric of the communities involved needed closer consideration.
Executive Committee member Cr Owen Hasler from Gunnedah Shire Council has forwarded these comments on the aforementioned submissions for delegates information:
I found these three documents very interesting and reflect my experience both on the Working Party and as the Resources Advisory Forum representative.
To my mind it is clear that Yancoal is driving the Minerals Council position which says, in my interpretation, the following:
1) The Preliminary Assessment Guidelines are excessive!!
2) There should be a standard form of SEARS (Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements) for SIA.
3) Community selected Peer Reviewers is impractical and unlikely to increase community confidence!!
4) DPE trained staff should have increased training and conduct Peer Reviews (and when such a review is required needs to be addressed in the guidelines which is a reasonable suggestion).
5) Recommendation page 11 – potentially affected people, they question this interpretation.
The position from Yancoal is as follows:
1) DPE best custodians of the Peer Review process-best positioned to make decisions!!
2) Timing of PEA (Preliminary Environmental Assessment) – should be no change.
3) What is the community?? I see some validity in this question.
4) Measuring sentiment – questions how this can be achieved.
5) Expectations of engagement – don’t like the example.
Basically they don’t like the changes!!
The Muswellbrook Shire Councils submission – is, in my opinion, an excellent submission reflecting the great deal of experience they have had in this regard.
SUGGESTION: that these three submissions are provided to our delegates/ member councils for their information.
I know that the submissions are available on the website but how many will access such without a prompt. I believe that by providing these submissions we are more likely to have an informed membership”.
Renewable Energy Targets and Energy Supply Options:
Headlined ‘Renewable Energy Supply boosted but short of Target’ The NSW governments Renewable Energy Action Plan 2016 shows NSW drew 14% of its energy sources from renewable sources, 7% from gas and 79% from coal in 2015.
The article mentions NSW and SA energy policies and comments from the Prime Minister on wind generators, closure of Hazelwood in Victoria which supplies energy to NSW, AGL plans to close Liddell at Muswellbrook in NSW in 2022, commments from NSW Energy Minister Harwin seeking a Federal governement National Energy Policy position to guide and assist the states to have secure energy sources to meet community demand. Adam Searle, opposition energy spokesman said the figure exposes NSW households and businesses to an energy crisis because all of the main current power sources – coal fired power stations that now provide 80% of energy will be closed in 20 years.
(Source : SMH 14TH March 2017, see website www.smh.com.au )
Fears of Job Losses over Gas supply price increases
Brickworks have indicated that with a 79% jump in gas prices, brought on by its scarcity, was affecting production in NSW, possible closure of plants and a loss of jobs likely to be the result. Options are or them to move their plants overseas. They have commented on their concerns publicly criticising the NSW state government for their inaction on not pushing for more gas exploration and mining to address the situation for business and residents.
(Source : Daily Telegraph 3rd March 2017, see website www.dailytelegraph.com.au )
Solar Farms for the West
It was reported in the Nyngan Observer 22 March 2017 that proposed solar power farms could generate sustainable power and jobs for Western NSW communities including Gilgandra, Warren and Walgett The NSW Minister for Resources, Energy and Utilities, Hon Don Harwin has announced that 12 proposed new solar farms are in the “state planning pipeline”.
In the article, the Minister for Planning and Housing, Hon Anthony Roberts also indicated that the proposed Sunraysia Solar Farm at Balranald would produce double the solar energy at Nyngan which currently produces 100megawatts for 32,000 homes. He further indicated that ‘the aim of the NSW government is for a secure, reliable affordable and clean energy future and projects such as Gilgandra Solar Farm, Nevertire Solar Farm and Walgett Solar Farm are great opportunities that enable the state government to deliver on this”.
There are eleven solar farms alredy approved since 2011 which will generate 660 megawatts for 200,000 homes and another twelve proposed solar farms would generate more than 1000 megawatts for 365,000 homes. These will result in short term jobs in the construction phase and ongoing maintenance phase in towns such as Gilgandra, Hillston, Narrabri, Armidale, Coleambally, Gulgong, Walgett, Jemalong, Balranald, Nyngan and Hay.
(Source: Nyngan Observer 22nd March 2017, see www.nynganobserver.com.au )
Expansion of the Snowy Hydro Scheme
The Prime Minister has announced recently a $2billion grand plan for expanding the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electricty Scheme by another 50% to introduce a 2000 megawatt battery, a quarter bigger than the doomed Hazelwwod power plant, to smooth out supply as more and more solar and wind energy plants are introduced intermittently and uncoordinated without any real plan.
With the nation faced with rising prices for energy options, respective state governments failing to guarantee energy supplies for their constituents, bad publicity about the options v the current siituation, no direction nationally, etc the Federal government comes out and makes this announcement as part of the fix.
(Source: SMH 18-19 March 2017, see www.smh.com.au )
Development Assessment Best Practice Guide
The Department Planning and Environment have released the Development and Assessment Best Practice Guide to help council’s meet the government’s ambition of 90% development approvals being determined within 40 days. The guide was tested as a pilot with selected councils and consists of best practice procedures from councils that met high levels of service to council customers. It comes on top of signicant changes being introduced to planning in NSW by the state government.
(Source: SMH 21ST March 2017, see www.smh.com.au )
Power Station for Boggabri?
The town of Boggabri was suggested as the ideal spot for a new power plant because of the high quality – coal available at its door step at Maules Creek, Boggabri and Turrawan, and the current national discussion about the nation’s energy situation, by a regional Councillor.
The State Member for Barwon, Kevin Humphries indicated he is against the idea as he said NSW was moving towards a better mix of energy sources and another coal fired power station would be a step in the wrong direction. Mr Humphries said “we are transitioning into renewables and alternative energy sources like gas, that is largely where it is going – all of the 12 solar farms we have on the books, four are in Barwon. We have a small gas fired generator out here at Narrabri, another one of those may be an option down the track to help with peak load demand “
The Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton in the same article said “he was open to an investigation on the possibility. I would support the concept if it became a possibility and at this stage I am keeping an open mind. A significant issue to be looked at would be cost of connecting to the grid”.
(Source: Northern Daily Leader 30th March 2017, see www.northermdailyleader.com.au )
Easter is upon us and in the middle of the school holidays, so take care on the road, don’t eat too many bilbies, enjoy the festivities and celebrate this special religious occasion with your family and friends.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at Council on 02 68492000.
Greg Lamont – Executive Officer
Clr Peter Shinton – Chair