Mining companies have thrown their support behind the NSW government’s plans to amend the State Environmental Planning Policy, favouring any reduction in barriers for investment.
By Monday the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure had progressively published more than 1000 submissions on an amendment that finished its public exhibition period on August 12. The policy change would see mineral resources given greater consideration in mining development applications.
The Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) currently has control over an exploration licence in Bylong and has voiced both praise and concern with the Department’s policy amendment.
“Like many proponents developing mining assets in NSW, KEPCO has concerns that uncertainty about the application of the current planning regime is undermining confidence in the sector,” KEPCO’s submission states.
“Several recent decisions have cast uncertainty over the ability to gain approvals for both the continuation of existing mines and for new projects in NSW. The proposed amendments to the SEPP are a welcome acknowledgement of this concern.
“We are supportive of the principle of making economic factors and the significance of the resource key considerations in the approvals process. Likewise there are also positive changes that will give clearer guidance to proponents over a number of important cumulative environmental assessments.”
KEPCO has said they plan to invest more than $750 million to bring the Bylong project to fruition. They are in partnership with Cockatoo Coal at Bylong.
Yancoal, owners of Moolarben Coal, has suggested changes to several clauses of the policy so it can “apply more broadly”.
“Further it should be amended to provide that no one objective or aim should be taken as having primacy over any of the others,” Yancoal’s submission states.
Yancoal has also asked the NSW government to further develop policy on biodiversity offsetting standards; noise impacts; dust impacts; and visual, social and economical impacts.
The NSW Minerals Council believes the changes “are only a modest improvement to the current problems within the NSW planning system”.
The Council said the reforms “will reduce some of the uncertainty that currently exists for mining projects.”
“However, further changes are required to ensure that the amendments deliver on their intent to “restore investor confidence”.