MERC Newsletter – January 2018


Delegates, here is the January 2018 Newsletter with a new name and acronym.What is best AMERC or MERC (staying with MERC at the moment), up for discussion, but no logo as yet…. it’s on the way.

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 Sydney 22/23rd February 2018

The February Ordinary meeting will be at NSW Parliament House, Jubilee Room, anticipated to commence from 9.00am on 23rd February 2018, sponsored by the Hon Rick Colless, Member Legislative Council, Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources and Western NSW. He is also the Chair Western Mining Taskforce and he will address delegates on where the Western Mining Taskforce is up to now they have reformed.

Delegates will need to be there sufficiently early to enable screening on entry to occur. The meeting will be preceded by a Special General Meeting to adopt the Association’s Strategic Plan for 2017 – 2020, logo and constitution with the Executive Committee to meet the afternoon before at 2.00pm, hopefully it will also be at Parliament House, in the McKellar Room, waiting on confirmation. In addition to Rick Colless, the Minister for Energy and Resources, the Hon Don Harwin looks likely to be a speaker on 23rd February 2017, however still waiting on Minister’s confirmation.

Felicity Greenway and Katharine Hole from Department Planning & Environment will be addressing delegates on the renewable energy policies and inititives of the state government as per the Associations resolution at its November meeting in 2017.

Attendance at Next meeting 23RD February 2018

Just a regular reminder to delegates we always need to guarantee we have a Quorum for the Special General Meeting and Ordinary Meetings on 23rd February 2018. Therefore your presence is recommended.

The meetings will commence at 9.00am in NSW Parliament House, Jubilee Room (to the right as you enter the building). Your advice on who is attending from your Council, as soon as possible to the Executive Officer by email would be appreciated to ensure we have a qurum and for catering purposes. Currently, the Association has 19 members so that means half plus one for a quorum. Agendas will be out about ten days before the meetings in the week beginning 13th February 2018 as per constitution.

Update on the Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party (VPAWP)

A meeting was held in Sydney on 15th December 2017 with M/s Alison Frame, M/s Felicity Greenway and Mr Stephen Barry from Department Planning and Environment and our own Chair Clr Peter Shinton, Clr Owen Hasler and the Executive Officer, to discuss progress with the Joint VPAWP. Delegates provided the senior staff of the DPE with an informative update outlining areas that were agreed and not agreed by the parties in the Joint VPAWP and the arguments to them.

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 think about how they were going to deal with the task given the opposed arguments and political sensitivities. The DPE would consider two separate close out reports as an option and engage a contractor to assist with putting them together and then get back to the Association in the New Year and what they would like to do with this given both parties have invested a considerable amount of time and money in the project.

The General Manager, Lachlan Shire Council, Mr Robert Hunt, has kindly forwarded a reply his Council received in response to their letter to the Minister on VPA’s as per the Association’s request to delegates in 2017, which confirms our discussions with the DPE as follows, penned by Alison Frame on behalf of the Minister:

Thank you for making the NSW Government aware of Lachlan Council’s recent resolution to support the Association’s preferred model for calculating the quantum payable under a VPA. To help record and preserve progress achieved to date on this matter, the Department has offered to work with both parties to prepare a formal joint report on the outcomes of the negotiations. This would note the areas of agreement and include options for resolving any areas of disagreement. We will be in touch with the AMRC shortly to progress this report.

Andrew Barry, DPE on behalf of Alison Frame has recently emailed the Chair and has advised that they have identified a contractor to assist in the preparation of a report of the outcomes of the VPA negotiations between MERC and NSW Minerals Council  in relation to Voluntary Planning Agreements. The report will document where those negotiations progressed to, how the parties propose to take the work forward and any other agreed next steps. Andrew has submitted terms of reference and the timeframe is to have the rpeoprt from the contractor completed by end of March 2018 and is seeking comments from the Working Party about the path and contractor chosen.

Clr Hasler, Steve Loane and the Executive Officer make up the current VPA Working Party and will consider the content of the Scope of Works in consultation with the Chair and Executive Committee, as required. The number one priority is to meet with the contractor as soon as possible to put our case on the table. More later at the 22nd and 23rd February meetings for an update.

Regional Independent Assessment Panel (RIAP) & Resources for Regions

The NSW Government will be calling for more applications for Resources for Regions round two later in 2018, given the recent announcements and promotions by the State Government and Minister Barilaro. Go to or call 1300679673 for details. The Executive Officer as the delegate for the Association has been informed next RIAP meeting in Sydney on 1st March 2018, there is no Agenda as yet and the execrise will be to consider the shortlisted applications from 2017’s call for submissions. There is $50m on the table for assessment. 


The Executive Officer has forwarded a brief seeking a price from our existing provider to undertake the task of modernising the webpages (after canvassing Councils), for consideration by Executive Committee at their meeting on 22nd February 2018 on what pages do they want left in, etc. As you can see from the website there is a lot of changes to be done and the presentation modernised. The addition of new Stregic Plan, Logo amended constitution will be part of the exercise.

Review of Strategic Framework (Plan) 2017 – 2020

The Draft Strategic Plan 2017 – 2020 will be presented to the Special General Meeting in Sydney on 23rd February 2018. The name of the Association has changed to ”Association of Mining and Energy Related Councils (NSW) Incorporated” (MERC or AMERC?). Department of Fair Trading has registered our new name and provided a certificate of Incorporation.

The Strategic Plan has been re worked/formatted by the Chair and members of the working Party and along with a new logo this will be adopted on 23rd February 2018.

Wollongong City Council Marketing department have been engaged to do the design of a new logo for the Executive to consider, to compliment the Strategic direction and name change of the Association. They will provide three options to the Executive which will be presented to delegates at the Special General Meeting on 23rd February 2017.

Constitution Review

Changes to the Constitution for name changes, details in clauses therein relating to “mining and energy related” matters, representation, voting policy/procedures and minor typographicals were adopted in readiness for the Strategic Plan 2017 – 2020 on 17th November 2017.

The Constitution has been rewritten to incorporate all of the changes made at the Special General Meeting held on 17th November 2017 and now the Department of Fair Trading want it adopted as a new document. Consequently, it will be presented to the Special General Meeting on 23rd February 2017. The changes are now reflected in the Document Controlled Appendix attached to the Constitution.

Next Meetings of Association for 2018

The Association has its next meeting in Sydney at Parliament House on 23rd February 2018 then Cobar in May 2018, with the August date yet to be confirmed (however we will work around the Country Mayors dates) and try for the same venue when in Sydney in future, then we have another regional meeting in the Upper Lachlan Shire in November when its warmer!.

The Executive will decide on the date for the May 2018 meeting. Cobar Shire Council has now indicated that 10/11th May 2018 would suit their Council as they have a race meeting on 12th May 2018 sponsored by the Council, which is a good opportunity to showcase the Shire with MERC delegates in town.

There are member Councils that may have Council meetings that week plus presenters to arrange and the travel arrangements to get to/from Cobar are all things to be considered by the Executive Committee. Note there are no flights into Cobar at the moment, this may change in the future in view of current negotiations by Cobar Shire Council with a potential airline service provider. Delegates can fly to Dubbo from Sydney and hire a vehicle and drive out or simply drive out. Dubbo may have a service via Newcastle by then if not now.

Membership Campaign

Campaign update – Dubbo have now written to the Executive Officer and have agreed to join the Association and not waiting until the construction of the mine commences as first indicated. Delegates from Dubbo are to be Mayor (Clr Ben Shields who is a member of LGNSW) and General Manager (Mr Michael McMahon). Forbes have also now joined and paid membership fees.

Warren Shire Council have resolved to send their Mayor (Cr Rex Wilson) and General Manager (Glen Wilcox, Life Member of the Association) to our next meeting 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.

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 renewable 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 renewable energy issues are affecting their communities, are the legislated planning processes adequate to do this? 

DPE Documents on Exhibition

The Association resolved at the November Meeting to prepare the following submissions to the DPE on their documents which are now on exhibition by 16th February 2018, as follows:

  • Voluntary Land Acquisition and Mitigation Policy;
  • Review the amendments to the Environment & Assessment Act 1979;
  • Examine Lisa Corbyn’s Independent Review Assessment Report.

The Association has engaged Warwick Giblin to prepare Drafts for these, plus do further submissions on the other documents also on exhibition such as the Guidelines for Large Scale Solar Farms and the discussion paper on Mine Rehabilitation in NSW, given their relevance and importance to the Association’s members and objects.

Input has been sought from member Councils such as Singleton, Cabonne and Mid Western who have had experience in these areas. The Executive Officer will work with Warwick on them and liaise with the Executive for input prior to sending the submissions in and when lodged copies will be forwarded to all member Councils for their information.

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

“The Australian Mining Review”  A complimentary copy of the January 2018 publication has been received by the Executive Officer and is available for an annual subcription of $120 plus GST for a hard copy. It is very informative on not just mining but energy related issues from a national perspective and a worthy read. Interestingly, there is an article in it outlining the ironic fact that miners are using renewable energy options to lower their own costs by up to 30%.

Also in another mining article the paper outlines 8 major mining projects in Australia in 2018 of which two of them are in NSW:

  • The Syerston Project (CleanTeq), CAPEX of $US680M, 2.5mtpa open pit project to produce nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate for the lithium – ion battery market, with a mine life 20 years initially;
  • The Woodlawn Project (Heron Resources), CAPEX of $156m, 1.5mtpa Zinc Copper, mine life of about 10 years initially.

It also has “The Australian Energy Review” inside the paper, talking about what is happening nationally on Oil, Gas, Electricity and Renewables in about 30 pages. One major feature is on what happens after Liddell closes in the Hunter Valley and AGL Energy have put a NSW Generation Plan on the table where “old power plants can be replaced with a mixtrure of new, cleaner technology, wjhile improving relaibility and affordability” It will generate 1600MW from renewables, 500MW from a new Gas Power Plant, 250MW from battery storgae on the Liddell site and will look at the feasibility of a pumped hydro project in the Hunter Valley in conjunction with NSW Government and to stage the developments to avaoid a gap in power generation. More details on the AGL Energy website. Author of article in the Australina Energy Review was Cameron Drummond cam@miningoilgas.

The publication is available in hard and digital formats. Enquiries to brad@ or phone 08 63140303 for a 12 month hard copy subcription to the Australian Mining Review if interested. Only downside is there are a lot of advertisements in the publication and it has a WA bias.

Why not ring and get a complimentary copy and make your own mind up.

“ Lismore Floating Solar Farm”. Lismore City Council has developed a floating solar farm on the East Lismore Sewerage Plant ponds using funds lent by 20 community members as shareholders in the porject, estimated to generate $24,000 pa in income in providing power to local community members “off the grid”. Project was supported by the Department of Planning. Refer Council’s webpage and the Departments’ sites.

Gunnedah Focus of Solar Proposals”   Vanessa Hohnke in The Northern Daily Leader on 30th January reports that “Gunnedah has become a hot spot for proposed solar farms. Orange Grove Sun Farm has jolined Photon Energy in submitting an application to DPE for a solar farm. The  CAPEX is estimated to be $80m for the 110 Mega Watt farm, 80 jobs during construction and three fulltime when built”. Noticed also another solar farm is proposed for Wee Waa in the Narrabri Shire Council area. Details are in

“The Five Renewabale Energy Predictions for the Year”  Cole Latimer in the Sydney Morning Herald  January 18Th 2018 edition in providing a Global Outlook for Australia and predicted that solar power, batteries and electric vehicles will be the big stories of 2018. He said “that’s the view of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysts outlining the big factors that will be leading the sustainable energy transition. They are listed as Clean Energy, Solar Power, Wind Power, Batteries and Electric Cars”.

There is a lot of valuable data in the article showing the investment potential of all. Reference in the article was made to a new cost-analysis report entitled “Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2017” by the International Renewable Energy Agency, that forecasts the global costs for onshore wind and solar to fall significantly, having already dropped 25 per cent since 2010. More details are available on site.

“MP Gets a Black Mark on Outages” The Sydney Morning Hereald on 9th January 2018 reported (Danielle Le Messurier and Sam McBeath) that Energy Minister Don Harwin has infuriated thousands of residents hit by blackouts on Sydney’s hottest day in 80 years by claiming the outages were just “par for the course”.

Ausgrid, the electricty retailer which left homes sweletering without power for hours despite raking in huge profits from skyrocketing bills, had a similar blunt message, saying it would cost too much to deliver power to “100per cent of customers 100 per cent of the time”. There were 42 major outages across the Ausgrid network on Sunday, leaving 31000 customers to melt as mercury soared into the mid 40’s, mainly on the Central Coast, the article said. Endeavour Energy had interuptions to 7400 homes in Penrith area. Refer to for further details.


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 or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email or or phone on 0407937636.

Greg Lamont – Executive Officer

Clr Peter Shinton – Chair