Mines swallow up cattle country

Beef Central, 21/01/2015
Flogging the Farm - North West

Analysis shows that coal companies have bought up more than 702,000 acres of freehold land in just two regions of NSW – an area greater than the size of the entire Australian Capital Territory.

Anti-mining group Lock the Gate has released the results of extensive research into the area of land now under the ownership or control of coal mining companies.

The alliance says the research into the scale of coal company ownership of farmland in the Gunnedah and Narrabri Shires of NSW shows the impacts of mines go well beyond their footprint, and there is urgent need for the State Government to reconsider its blanket support for expanded coal mining in farming districts.

The results show coal companies own 34,522 hectares of land in Gunnedah Shire and 48,427ha in Narrabri Shire, with the largest holdings in the hands of Chinese company Shenhua, for its Watermark coal project and majority-foreign-owned Whitehaven Coal, which has extensive holdings in Maules Creek and near Baan Baa.

Willala farmer Alistair Donaldson said, “When you look at the amount of good farming land in the Hunter that is in the hands of the coal mines, and you see it happening out here, it’s clear that there is a big problem with multi-national coal companies buying up the north-west, but that we’ve got the chance to put a halt to it before it gets out of control.

“When the Government approves new mines and mine expansions, it’s not just the footprint of the mine that gets affected, but a ring of productive farmland is bought up and wasted.”

If the Shenhua mine gets approved by the Planning and Assessment Commission, there are 25 more properties that are on the “acquisition list” because the mine will have unacceptable noise and air quality impacts. When the Maules Creek coal mine was approved, 12 properties were listed to be acquired. Altogether, coal companies own more than 300 parcels of land in the Narrabri and Gunnedah regions.

“This is how rural communities are torn apart by mining, as multi-nationals by up the land and leave it to weeds and waste. This State Government is failing farming and unless they take action and make farmland and important forests off-limits to mines, it’s only going to get worse.”

Source: Lock the Gate. Full details of the research and its findings are available by clicking here


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  1. Edgar Burnett, 27/01/2015

    Mining Companies have been throwing “stupid money” around for land for quite some time now to the delight of the Real Estate Agents and the few Landholders who have sold.
    The result –
    1) an inflated Real Estate market and some resultant over-borrowing by genuine purchasers
    2) a good excuse for the Local Governments to increase their Rates
    3) less chance for keen young people to buy into a farming enterprise.

    Governments grant Permits to these entities that enables them to get into positions where they want to buy the land. And where are most of the Miners now? – they have ridden off into the sunset!

  2. Anita Lethbridge, 23/01/2015

    While I sympathize with people wanting a premium for whatever reason, this is a very short sighted answer for the whole of rural Australia. Wandoan, Qld is not far from us and it has paid a very heavy price with a proposed coal mine belonging to Xstrata, now Glencor. A big bright future was promised to this community and instead it is left a shell of its former self. Governments are allowing and encouraging mining and gas companies to decimate productive farming and grazing country, along with all forms of underground water, including the Artesian Basin all for SHORT TERM GAIN. All thinking Australians should be very wary of the legacy that future generations will be inheriting.

  3. Helen Armstrong, 21/01/2015

    Lucky producers, able to sell their land for a premium. Willing buyer and willing seller, arrangements should not be interfered with via Government or activists – unless the activists want to cough up the same value to buy the property? No, they just want to prevent anyone from making a decent retirement.

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