The Association of Mining Related Councils (AMRC) Annual General Meeting was hosted by Cabonne Shire Council in central west NSW on Friday, with the leadership team re-elected unopposed. Association Chair, Mayor of Warrumbungle Shire Council, Cr Peter Shinton reflected on a highly productive year, which featured direct communication with relevant Ministers and Shadow Ministers (at the Association’s quarterly meetings).
“As the peak body representing mining affected councils in NSW, the AMRC has achieved the advocacy influence it deserves and has been addressing critical issues that can overwhelm a council in isolation,” said Chair Shinton. Chairing these meetings can be challenging but progress for our communities is rewarding.”
“Member councils can vary greatly in their views on mining. We are about getting the best outcomes for our communities. A constructive approach has been recognised as the best way forward,” he said.
Councils from Wollongong to Narrabri were represented by councillors and senior staff for the AGM and quarterly meeting. Cr. Chris Connor is Deputy Mayor of Wollongong City Council, representing Local Government Areas affected by coal mining, while the other Deputy Chair is Cr. Lilliane Brady OAM, Mayor of Cobar Shire Council, who represents metalliferous mining areas. Meanwhile, Executive positions are held by Cr. John Martin OAM (Singleton Council), Gunnedah Shire Mayor Owen Hasler and Cr. Sharon Wilcox (Cabonne Shire Council).
The meeting looked at such issues as roads, Voluntary Planning Agreements and strategic planning for 2016 to ensure recent levels of Ministerial communication continue.
Delegates at the AMRC meeting were taken on a guided tour of the Newcrest Cadia Valley Operations gold mine prior to the meeting. One of the largest gold mines in the southern hemisphere, Cadia proudly undertakes numerous community engagement and support initiatives. “Like what we saw in the Northparkes Mine and in our visit to the Bland Shire, Cadia has worked to develop genuine relationships with Cabonne and Blayney Shire Councils,” said Chair Shinton. “We drove through an intersection on our way to the Cadia mine site which Cabonne Shire Council AMRC delegate Cr. Sharon Wilcox explained was identified as an accident black spot; that intersection has just seen responsive action from the Cadia mine, in association with the council.”
Delighted to host the AMRC meeting, Cabonne Shire Mayor Cr Ian Gosper described the Cadia mine as a good corporate citizen. “A group of landholders meet regularly with the Cadia Valley Operations team. We have council representation on that committee. Cadia supports the community and funds a lot of infrastructure in the area.”
In February 2016, the AMRC was given a presentation by Western Research Institute CEO Danielle Ranshaw, outlining what her report “Economic, social & community impacts of Newcrest Mining Limited, Cadia Valley Operations” entailed, together with the outcomes and conclusions from it. The in-depth study saw the mining operation identify needs and voluntarily make additional investments into the local community.”
According to Chair Shinton, there is much to learn from the Cadia story. “There are cases where mining operations are positive stories and all involved are doing there upmost to do the right thing. Cadia was prepared to invest in research and academic expertise to analyse socio-economic impacts, like the AMRC has with its Panel of Experts,” continued Chair Shinton. “We also heard of extensive environmental monitoring and thorough rehabilitation plans. I would hope that other mines and the State Government could learn from the positive stories, as well as the negatives.”