24 April Implications of the change of government in New South Wales April 24, 2023 By AMPLA Admin General NSW, Government 0 On 25 March New South Wales (NSW) elected Chris Minns as their new Premier signalling a change in direction for Australia’s most populous state. This will see some change in policy particularly for the energy and resources sector. For the coal industry, there are eight proposed coal expansions on the table that are now in doubt. These include the Hunter Valley Operations Continuation Project. Prior to the election Minns did also indicate that the Labor government may consider acquiring the Eraring coal-fired power plant to ensure energy supply. Eraring is the largest power station in NSW and was earmarked for closure by Origin Energy in 2025. On 25 March New South Wales (NSW) elected Chris Minns as their new Premier signalling a change in direction for Australia’s most populous state. This will see some change in policy particularly for the energy and resources sector. For the coal industry, there are eight proposed coal expansions on the table that are now in doubt. These include the Hunter Valley Operations Continuation Project. Prior to the election Minns did also indicate that the Labor government may consider acquiring the Eraring coal-fired power plant to ensure energy supply. Eraring is the largest power station in NSW and was earmarked for closure by Origin Energy in 2025. In a bid to address climate change, Minns took to the election an intention to legislate NSW’s target to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and a 50% reduction in carbon emission on 2005 levels by 2030. Labor has also announced that it will establish a Net Zero Commission responsible for developing a plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and monitoring and reviewing the plan every five years. The Net Zero Commission would also review the impact of the targets on jobs, industry, energy prices, ensuring mining communities receive a fair share from royalties and make recommendations to the government on how to meet the targets more effectively. Minns also indicated that his government will create the NSW Energy Security Corporation. This body will be charged with accelerating investment in renewable energy assets to deliver cleaner and more reliable energy. The organisation will partner with industry to develop renewable storage solutions like pumped hydro and community batteries to maximise benefits from household solar. It is expected that the Corporation will produce 12 gigawatts of additional renewable energy and 2 gigawatts of storage by 2030. In addition, Minns has indicated that the government will establish a Hydrogen Centre for Excellence that should be operational by 2026. The government has already opened a competitive tender for electricity firming infrastructure under the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act. The tender has an indicative capacity of at least 380 megawatts of additional firming infrastructure in the Sydney-Newcastle-Wollongong sub-region that will be available by the end of 2025. The intention of the tender is to improve the reliability of the state’s energy system. Other changes that may soon occur include streamlining the process for approving renewables projects to give industry more certainty. Another potential option is to increase coal royalties, currently at 8.2% for open-cut mines in NSW. However Minns has indicated that his government doesn’t have any plans to increase royalties at this time. This space will be one to watch closely as the need to address climate change and increasing cost of living continue. Related Articles Submission - DISER Consultation Paper December 2020 ‘Enhancing Australia’s decommissioning framework for offshore oil and gas activities’ Climate change action is being driven by business and industry While everyone’s focus in recent months has been on the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change was top of everyone’s mind when the year began with bushfires ravaging Australia. The pandemic has seen individuals and organisations assess their ideologies and perspectives on a range of topics, climate change being one of them. It now seems that climate change is back on everyone’s agenda and none more so than business and industry. COMMUNITY LEGAL RIGHTS IN MINE CLOSURE PLANNING; A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THREE AUSTRALIAN STATES Professor Alex Gardner, University of Western Australia Law School, and Laura Hamblin, formerly research associate at the UWA Law School, 2021 Why does the Mining Act 1978 (WA) not provide secure legal rights for community consultation in relation to mining lease proposals and mine closure plans? Addressing this question presents an important theme for this comparative review of some core features of the regulatory frameworks for mine closure in three Australian States. It also raises important questions for future legal research. Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria have prominent but vastly different, and thus uniquely significant, mining industries. Western Australia’s mining industry has a long history of large and smaller scale mining of a diverse range of minerals by various methods that pose significant mine rehabilitation challenges.[i] Queensland’s mining industry is similarly large and diverse, dominated by export coal production, and planning future minerals development in a decarbonising world.[ii] Victoria has a smaller mining industry with a large historical legacy dominated by a coal mining industry for domestic electricity generation in the Latrobe Valley, which is closing as the State actively transitions to renewable power sources.[iii] These States also have significant differences in the regulation of their mining industries. What all three States do have in common is the significance of their mining industries to both the State economy and the communities who depend on or live near mining operations. Importantly, all three States are confronting large legal and regulatory challenges in managing mine rehabilitation and closure. The key to addressing these challenges is effective mine closure planning: the closure of a mine site has ripple effects that are not merely environmental and economic, but social and cultural too. The initial approval of a mine closure plan occurs before any mining has begun and, with the life cycle of a mine often spanning decades, regulatory bodies are approving hypothetical closure scenarios, potentially subject to vast changes. Regulatory bodies may then seek to enforce closure requirements enshrined in a plan that may wane in relevance as mining operations progress, the updating of which may depend on the miner. Yet remedying the regulatory system so that it creates adaptable but consistently effective mine closure outcomes for affected communities still begins at planning. Although that planning is an iterative process across the life of the mine, it is very important at the initial stage of approval. Recent legislative reforms in all three States are adding to the regulatory rigour and adaptability of mine closure planning, though there are very different legal requirements for community consultation. This article aims to explain and assess the regulatory reforms by undertaking a comparative analysis of mine closure planning across Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria, with a focus on the initial approval stage and how stakeholders and communities are brought into that process. The facilitation of continuous and comprehensive community engagement is critical to ensuring that mine closure planning accounts for environmental, economic, social, cultural and safety outcomes after mine closure, but it has not been possible to consider here the process of ongoing mine closure planning, especially for amending mine closure plans and determining satisfaction of mine closure plans leading to resource tenure relinquishment.[iv] The article begins by considering core concepts of mine closure planning and the regulatory goals that inform it. It then provides a comparative overview of each State’s mine closure planning requirements under the mineral resources, environmental and land use planning laws and draws out some of the different regulatory structures and processes for mine closure within each State. The third step in our analysis compares the ways in which those laws provide for local communities’ participation in mine closure planning, with specific attention to whether the regulatory provisions create legally enforceable rights for effective community engagement. The article concludes with a summary of the key points from the discussion of three themes in our analysis: (i) the importance of clear definitions of core concepts and key goals, (ii) mine closure planning as an essential part of a mining proposal, and (iii) the legal definition of community engagement and consultation rights. Mine closure planning and implementation is necessarily influenced by many other spheres of law including taxation law, investment law, water law, and the rights of traditional owners, to name a few. A potentially directly relevant Commonwealth law is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth), which may require environmental impact assessment of a mining proposal and closure plan and lead to approval conditions supplementing State requirements.[v] Whilst acknowledging the importance of these adjacent spheres of the regulatory frameworks for effective mine closure planning, this article does not attempt to address their impact. In particular, the rights of Traditional Custodians are a crucial part of mine closure planning that are only briefly noted here and that would benefit from future research. WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, Major Commodities Review 2022-23”. Qld Government, Department of Resources, Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan, June 022. Vic Government, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy. See L Hamblin, A Gardner, Y Haigh, Mapping the Regulatory Framework of Mine Closure, May 2022, CRC TiME, for a broader exploration of the full life cycle of mine closure regulation. In Buzzacott v Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities  FCAFC 111; (2013) 214 FCR 301, , -, referring to the range of approval conditions, which included mine closure. In setting conditions under the EPBC Act, the Commonwealth Minister must consider any relevant conditions under State or Territory law: at  citing Lansen v Minister for Environment and Heritage (2008) 174 FCR 14. Submission - Consultation on the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Titles Administration and Other Measures) Bill 2021 Federal Government releases its Nature Positive Plan How foreign investment changes may impact the mining and energy sector In early June 2020, the government announced a review of the foreign investment rules, expanding them to apply to all foreign investors in anything deemed a ‘sensitive national security business’. The changes are scheduled to come into effect on 1 January 2021. There are concerns that this will impact foreign investment in the mining and energy sectors, and in particular the critical minerals space. Showing 0 Comment Comments are closed.