The cotton industry has welcomed the NSW Government’s announcement this week that it will buy back BHP’s licence for the Caroona coal mine on the Liverpool Plains, a move which may guide policy on other mining and coal seam gas projects affecting agriculture.
The exploration licence was issued in 2006 for approximately 344 square kilometres on the prime agricultural land of the Liverpool Plains.
BHP Billiton has agreed to cease progression of the Caroona Coal Project, through the cancellation of Exploration Licence (EL) 6505.
BHP Billiton Minerals Australia President, Mike Henry, acknowledged the NSW Government’s willingness to come to an acceptable agreement in respect of the cancellation of EL6505.
Adam Kay, CEO of Cotton Australia, the peak representative body for Australia’s cotton growing industry, said that Cotton Australia welcomes the NSW Government’s decision to buy back the Caroona licence, which is a common-sense approach to resolving the issue of land and water resource protection.
“We also congratulate the local landholders who campaigned on this issue for more than a decade, and the NSW Government, on the process that brought about this result, as it demonstrates the willingness of the parties involved to negotiate in order to protect valuable agricultural land and water resources.”
Mr Kay says the agriculture sector is hopeful that the action taken by the NSW Government in relation to Caroona may translate into a long-term shift in the way agriculture and resources operations are strategically managed.
“Caroona is by no means the only resources project affecting valuable farming land, or with the potential to impact farms,” Mr Kay says.
“We hope the NSW Government will consider applying the same methodology at Caroona to other resources projects in the state, such as the Shenhua mine project, which is also located on the Liverpool Plains.”