Delegates, here is the May 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.
AMRC meeting in Broken Hill 11/12th May 2017
Thank you to the delegates that made the long trip to Broken Hill by plane or car. The tour of the Cristal Sands Separation Plant on Thursday 11th May was a highlight and very informative, followed by a tour of the mining historic sights at Perilya Mine Site and Museum, the Line of Lode and a tour of the city, courtesy of Silver City Tours.
In the evening, at the networking dinner in the Astra Hotel, we were very fortunate to be accompanied by the Deputy Mayor of Broken Hill City Council, Clr Dave Gallagher who deputised for the Mayor and welcomed delegates.
Next day, preceding the Ordinary Meeting, the Mayor of Broken Hill City Council, Clr Darriea Hurley, welcomed delegates and proudly spoke about the mining history of Broken Hill and her life as a local. The Mayor was accompanied by Councillor Christine Adams, a local historian from Broken Hill and a City Councillor, who addressed delegates and enlightened them with her presentation on “I’m a Miners Daughter” and in her role as the Curator at the local Railway Museum. Delegates were extremely impressed by the informative address by Councillor Adams and the Mayor.
Behind the scenes, for the traditional mine site tour, network dinner, press, tour bus, organising speakers and meeting venues, was a lot of the leg work done by Councillor Jim Nolan, a member of Broken Hill City Council, their delegate to the Association and on our Executive Committee. Without Jims’ assistance and contacts, the success of the meetings and trip to Broken Hill would not have been as high, thank you Jim for the help given to the Executive Officer and Executive of the Association with our visit to Broken Hill.
Next Meeting in Sydney 10/11th August 2017
We are unable to have our Ordinary meeting at Parlaiment House this year as the MP for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall has the Jubilee Room booked for the NSW Country Mayor’s Association. In speaking with the Parliamentary Services staff, the process requires sponsorship by a Local Member of Parliament to book the facility and on this occasion neither day on 10th or 11th August 2017 are available.
When the dates are set at the AMRC Annual General Meeting each year, every endeavour will be undertaken prior, to ensure we don’t have a clash with other groups so we can get to have our future meetings at Parliament House. In the meantime, efforts will be on having the August meeting at Rydges Sydney Central again where they have offered a discount for us to go there and subject to accurate numbers it will be a lot cheaper than in March. We have asked for a quote for a meeting room for 25 delegates and a small room for the Executive Committee to meet beforehand, at a cheaper rate than in the past.
Planning Legislation Updates
The Association has been informed by the Deputy Secretary of Planning Policy, Strategy and Governance, Alison Frame that submissions for changes to the EPA Act have closed and there were 470 submissions from a wide range of stakeholder groups and interested individuals. This will take some time to sort out and a stakeholder report will be issued in due course providing an update on policy and other developments as a result. Further details can be obtained from Alison direct at email@example.com or the project team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alison has always been very cooperative and has indicated it is highly probable that she and staff will be attending our meeting at Singleton to do the mine tour in the afternoon and attend the meeting next day to provide an update on planning policy matters, etc.
An invitation has been forwarded to the Minister for Planning, the Hon Anthony Roberts requesting a meeting with the Associations’ Executive Committee and Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party members to provide an update on progress to date and other planning matters that may well flow from the conversation such as recent changes to the EPA Act. Alison has also been helpful in assisting with the provision of emails to expedite the process.
Claim the Date
Former Chair of the Association and life member of the Association, Councillor Colleen Fuller, Gunedah Shire Council has forwarded documentation promoting a mining event being held in Gunnedah on 16 – 17th September 2017, in “Recognising 120 years of Mining across the Gunnedah Shire”.
There will be a Memorial Service and an official Miners Support Dinner on Saturday 16th September 2017 and BBQ breakfast next day. If you can make it or need further details email email@example.com
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. The consultant will have a draft to the Associations VPA Working Party by 31st July 2017 and have the document refined and tabled at our August meeting.
Further details will be provided as they unfold, however Warwick is not able to start the project until early July 2017 due to other commitments, however he is the best person to do this and will research what other states have used to compensate the community for the impacts on the social fabric of the community from mining and related activities.
Regional Independent Assessment Panel (RIAP)
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 such as Resources for Regions, Water and Waste Water backlog Program for Infrastructure NSW, Country Bridges, and other infrastructure projects.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 who were to receive grants (against set criteria) as independents.
The officer on the Panel from Premier’s and Cabinet Department, Chris Hanger, is to write to the Association to request the appointment of a delegate to the Panel to replace Don Tydd. There are no current applications to consider.
As at the date of this Newsletter, a letter from Mr Hanger has not yet been received.
Review of Mines Subsidence Board
A response has been received from the Chair Mines Subsidence Board (on a Subsidence Advisory NSW letterhead), Laura Christie in response to issues raised by Councillor Dan Thompson, Singleton Shire Council delegate to the Association and supported by the Association at our 2 March 2017 meeting in Sydney and the subsequent letter sent to the Minister for Finance, Services and Property, the Hon Victor Dominello.
Matters raised by Councillor Thompson (who is a member of the Mines Subsidence Board as a Local Government Industry representative appointed by the Minister for Local Government), were the NSW governemnt proposing to pass legislation to allow miners to deal direct with affected residential properties, the return of the $20m levy fund monies or a substantial part thereof to miners to do this and recommending the establishment of a Rehabilitation Fund in lieu for this to occur for active and non active mines.
Given the importance of these critical matter, the content of the response from the Chair is summarised below in point form for the information of delegates and will be dealt with at the next meeting of the Association in August, if not beforehand, by the Executive:
- The government is reviewing the Mine Subsidence Compensation Act 1961 to make underground coal operators more accountable for subsidence damage to people’s homes and infrastructure;
- The reforms seek to reposition Subsidence Advisory NSW as a more effective regulator than the Mines Subsidence Board and as a better case advisory service provider for property owners affected by subsidence damage;
- Regarding the Coal Mine Subsidence Compensation Fund, the new user pays model require the miners to pay for their own subsidence impacts in a system that will be overseen by Subsidence Advisory NSW, who will manage the fund;
- The Chair has indicated that the funds will also be used to provide compensation for damage caused by non active coal mines and for the current backlog of claims from active mines (until the legislation is passed);
- The existing contingency within the Fund will not be returned to industry in the long term, only to assist for a number of collieries deemed worse off in the transitional period;
- Long term impacts of mining on the environment will be addressed by other departments eg Department of Planning administers mining rehabilitation bonds and they have Derelict Mines Program.
The Chair, suggested that if there were any further details or enquiries they should be directed to these people – Mine Subsidence Reforms (Felicity No, Acting Director on 02 93727116) or in relation to mining rehabilitation bonds and the Derelict Mines Program (Kylie Hargreaves, Deputy Secretary, Resources and Geoscience form the Department of Planning and Environment on 02 93386986).
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. The Executive Officer has organised to meet with our website designer in June to obtain costings to review the website and remove old photos, look at modernising it, make the website more user friendly, have the newsletter part of it and so on.
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), presented in a new format and content, the draft Strategic Plan 2017 – 2020 to delegates at the Association’s meeting in Broken Hill with a new Vision “To be the peak body in NSW, empowering and resourcing local councils and their communities to address the challenges and opportunities created by mining, energy production and related infrastructure”.
The draft Strategic Plan also has new Context and Consultation themes with three Strategic Directions as follows:-
- Advocacy so that member councils are heard
- Resourcing to support member councils
- Policy to empower member councils
Each Strategic Direction is supported by commentary on it’s Purpose, the People and Processes involved, the Products developed and the Practice regime to be followed with Key Performance Indicators and Performance Measures. There is also a possible name change for the Association, as a result of this fresh look, at what is happening to councils and impacting on our communities from mining and energy related activities in order to be more relevant, effective and assisting such as the “Mining and Energy Related Councils” (MERC), any others?.
Councillor Connor is seeking input from the Working Party members on the content. The final draft will be presented to delegates at the August meeting.
Commissioner for Land and Water – Mining Activity Statistical Reports
The Association Chair has been provided with copies from the Commissioner for Land and Water that his staff have developed to monitor and provide accurate up to date details to the public on mining activities in each Local Government Area throughout NSW.
At the meeting in Broken Hill, it was resolved that the Association support the devlopment of such informative reporting on mining activities and that the Commissioner, Mr Jock Laurie and his staff be invited to attend the next meeting of delegates in Sydney on 11th August to do a presentation on the details outlined in the Mining Activity Statistical Reports that his office have developed for member Councils to share with their communities ie Complinace levels and Status Reports for every mine in NSW.
The reports can be found on the www.landandwater.nsw.gov.au website or enquiries can be made to the NSW Land and Water Commissioner on phone 02 63913429.
The Commissioner has gladly accepted the invitation to take delegates through these new tools at our next meeting in August 2017.
Related Matters of Interest – Energy Issues in the Press
“Oxfam’s coal-free call is dangerous fantasy” Steve Gallilee, NSW Minerals Council CEO, in the NSW Daily Telegraph 20th May 2017, had a swipe at Oxfam’s latest policy platform when it released its “More Coal Equals More Poverty” report which criticises Australia for supplying coal for electricity generation to developing nations. He says “the report claims renewables alone can power our region’s poorest nations and calls on Australia to transition to 100 per cent renewable energy in just 12 years time”. Steve says this agenda has been dismissed by economists and ignores one of the biggest impediments to raising people out of poverty – access to reliable, affordable electricity.
Steve points out that Oxfam’s suggestion that renewables alone could lift the poor out of poverty in places such as India is a dangerous fantasy. He said the Indian Minister for Power, Coal and Renewable Energy, Mr Piyush Goyal said in 2016 “Solar works when the sun is shining, wind works when the wind is blowing, hydro works when there is water in the rivers. You must have coal”.
Three years before this, Steve and a few of his mining industry mates participated in a charity event called Trailwalker, a 100 kilometre walk held annually, to raise funds for Oxfam. They raised several thousand dollars and believed they were walking to raise money to help people get out of poverty. He is not happy! Refer www.dailytelegraph.com.au
“Clean energy ‘’rocketing to record year” Peter Hannam, Environment reporter in the SMH reported that “Australia’s clean energy record is heading for a record year for new solar and wind farms, generating thousands of jobs in regional areas and bringing the 2020 Renewable Energy Target within range.
The Clean Energy Council’s annual report released on Tuesday shows the country generated about 17,500 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy last year, more than halfway to the 2020 goal of 33,000 GW-hours a year”. Refer details on the www.smh.com.au and www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au websites for further details.
“Move to strip councils of DA power slammed” Reported in the SMH 31st May is the backlash from the NSW governments decision to strip metropolitan councils of their planning powers to determine DA’s above a certain value and possibly where a Councillor has a pecuniary interest. For some regional Councils the use of panels would be voluntary. Refer www.smh.com.au for more details. Local Government NSW issued a media release entitled “Panel Measure Erodes Local Democracy” on June 1st 2017 raising its concerns about the proposals.
“Royalties agreed over Adani mine” In the SMH 31st May 2017, it is reported that the “on again off again” Adani mine in QLD is back on track following a decision by the QLD government to have a six year royalty deferral with capped payments at $5m pa put in place to assist Adani proceed. Projected jobs were to be in the vicinity of 10,000 for the $16billion development.The Federal government also is assisting by lending Adani the money, under what terms is not clear. Refer www.smh.com.au publications for further details.
“Government push for clean coal funding” Published in the SMH 31st May, the Turnbull government will test support for coal in Parliament by introducing changes that would allow the green bank to invest in carbon capture and storage technology if it cuts pollution by at least half. They propose to expand the Clean Air Finance Corporation to back fossil fuel power plants that includes technology sometimes descibed as “clean coal”. The technology involves capturing the emissions at the source and burying them underground. Refer www.smh.com.au
“Bush left in the Dark”
Essential Energy has reported that its customers have experienced an average of nearly two balckouts a year, while Endeavour and Ausgrid who service the popoulations in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong reported its customers experienced less than one blackout a year on average.
NSW Energy Minister, the Hon Don Harwin said “the people of country NSW understood you cant compare apples with oranges. It sometimes takes longer to travel the distance to get to a fault in country NSW, not always, but most of the time, than it does in Sydney. It wont always be possible to do things as quickly, people in the regions get that”. Mr Harwin also was quoted as saying Essential Energy had improved their service levels, pointing to the slight decrease in the number of outages in 2015/16 at 1.8 per customer, after it peaked at 2.0 power outages per customer in 2014/15.
Narromine Shire Council have advised that they have resigned from the Association, which is disappointing, without reason. As the Executive Officer has pointed out to the Association’s Executive, when there is significant change at a Council, after the four yearly September elections, for political reasons or otherwise, these things happen, especially when there are not any experienced delegates or Staff on Council left to provide rational comment or defend a position as to why the Council joined the Association in the first place. Narromine had 6 out of 9 Councillors stand down, including Mayor and Deputy Mayor. But as we all know that is democracy and we move on.
Now that the scope and content of the draft Strategic Plan for 2017 – 2020 is taking shape, submissions will be forwarded to identified Councils that have or are about to have mining and renewal energy developments in their Local Government Areas, followed by phone calls and visits.
The meeting with Lithgow City Council and Association has been deferred until new General Manager has settled in. Any asistance delegates can provide with membership leads or contacts, please give the Executive Officer aor Chair a ring or send an email.
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 Working Party.
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 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on 0407937636.
Greg Lamont – Executive Officer
Clr Peter Shinton – Chair