YORKE PENINSULA LAND OWNERS’ GROUP Inc.
Provide effective long-term protection for SA’s valuable agricultural land by
- Excluding invasive exploration/mining from these regions
- Rescinding the right of exploration/mining companies to take farmers to court if they refuse to grant land access.
- Undertake a new, independent review of the Mining Act 1971 to deliver a Bill that guarantees a fair and equitable outcome for all sectors of the SA community, not just mining.
- Investigate and implement measures to redress the current imbalance between mining interests and those of pre-existing land users and impacted communities across all administrative, policy and judicial sectors.
The Yorke Peninsula Land Owners Group Inc, with over 300 members, works to stop invasive exploration/mining on the Peninsula to help:
- Prevent interference to farmers’ use of their land
- Protect the region’s prime cropping land for future generations
- Preserve the tranquility, natural beauty and coastal marine life of YP;
- Safeguard the ability of residents and visitors to YP to use and enjoy the region’s many attractions; and
- Promote public, political and media awareness of mining related issues that may endanger any of the above
YPLOG is not opposed to mining in non-rural areas.
Nor are we opposed to extractive mines – such as dolomite and sand – on the Peninsula.
However, we believe YPs valuable cropping land, rich natural beauty and thriving tourist industry should not be put at risk from large scale, open-cut heavy metal mines which have a notoriously long track record of causing major environmental damage in many countries across the world.
The following outline our major policy priorities for the upcoming State election. We urge all political parties and their local candidates to adopt these as part of their mining and agricultural policies.
Provide effective, long-term protection for SA’s valuable agricultural land from invasive exploration/mining
Why agricultural land must be protected
- Only 4.3% of cropping land and only 5% of agricultural land in general is left in SA.
- Yet, it continues to be YP’s and the state’s most important industry – a fact often overlooked or given only lip service by policy makers and Government.
- Some recent figures:
- Export value of SA’s grain production – $2.5 billion
- Percentage that SA contributes to Australia’s total grain production – 20%
- Number of people employed directly and in the food sector by the grain industry – 180,000 (GPSA, 2018 South Australian Election: 2018)
- In recent years farming has “led a rebound in the state’s employment fortunes…” and has been “central to starting up SA’s economy” by adding more than 10,000 jobs in the past 12 months (2017) and 8,600 jobs in the past 5 years. Over the same period, mining lost 1,200 jobs and 3,700 jobs respectively” (The Advertiser, Feb 12, 2018).
- In the 2017/18 season, YP’s three Viterra sites recorded the largest grain receival haul (almost 1.3 million tons of grain) of any region in SA. Yet it contains only 12% of the State’s cropping land. ( YPCT, 13th Feb 2018).
On Yorke Peninsula, this industry faces growing risk from increased exploration and mining activities.
- Until recent years, most invasive mining took place in remote areas of the state. That is now changing. Even though huge, untapped mineral resources still exist in these remote areas, more mining companies are moving into settled agricultural regions like YP to be closer to existing infrastructure (roads, electricity, water, ports etc). Using this taxpayer-funded support base allows them to keep costs down and increase their profits.
- YP is a prime target because, as part of the Olympic Copper belt, it contains a number of potentially rich copper deposits.
- Almost 95% of the Peninsula is under Exploration Licence.
- The first large scale invasive copper mine has now been approved at Hilside near Pine Point. This tenement covers 3,000 hectares of prime cropping land, close to major tourist settlements and on the very edge of St Vincent’s Gulf. It will involve massive waste rock dumps and an open pit 450 metres deep, 2.4 kms long and 1.2 km wide which will not be backfilled once mining finishes.
- Other promising copper resources on YP have already been identifed by exploration companies. For example, Rex Minerals Ltd – the company seeking to develop the Hillside Mine – has identified 15 satellite targets within the vicinity of Hillside, with further exploration work planned. This company now holds exploration licences over 2,000+ square kms of YP and is currently applying for more.
WHAT IS NEEDED:
Strong action from ALL political parties to guarantee the long-term protection of SA’s remaining agricultural land, rather than putting it at risk for short term mining gains.
Undertake a new, independent review of the Mining Act 1971 to deliver a Bill that guarantees an effective and equitable outcome for all sectors of the SA community, not just mining
What is wrong with the new Bill
- In late 2017, the Government released its Statutes Amendment (Leading Practice in Mining) Bill intended to replace the Mining Act 1971.
- The Bill passed the House of Assembly on 1 November 2017, but was put on hold (until after the state election) when the Liberals, Greens and Australian Conservatives indicated they would not support its passage through the Legislative Council.
- YPLOG and leading agricultural bodies such as GPSA and Livestock SA have severely criticised the review process itself and the resultant Bill which clearly preferences mining over agriculture and other land users. For example:
- It ignores the threats to pre-existing industries and local communities from the incursion of mining into settled rural areas;
- It aims to make access to agricultural land for exploration/mining companies even easier by changing the status of cropping land from “exempt” to “restricted” which implies fewer protections;
- It fails to rescind the ability of exploration/mining companies to take farmers to court for refusing to allow access to their land;
- Its focus on delivering greater flexibility and streamlined mining approvals and regulatory functions to the detriment of other sectors.
WHAT IS NEEDED
A strong commitment from All political parties to deliver mining legislation which represents the interests of all sectors of the SA community in a fair and balanced way.
Investigate and implement measures to redress the current imbalance between mining interests and those of pre-existing land users and impacted communities across all policy, administrative and judicial sectors.
Power imbalance between the mining industry and other sectors
- At present, farmers, other land users and local communities are often powerless to assert their rights and have their interests protected when dealing with the very influential mining industry.
- Various measures must be implemented urgently to redress this power imbalance. These include:
- Establishing independent review, complaint and advocacy mechanisms to provide greater scrutiny of Ministerial, administrative and mining company decisions and activities (e.g. a court-based Merit Review Process, a Mining Ombudsman and a grass-roots Advisory and Advocacy Service for farmers).
- Introducing a mandatory requirement that impacts on agriculture MUST be given special weighting when drafting Government policies on mining and related issues. The SA Copper Strategy and SA Multiple Land Use Framework are clear examples where this did not occur.
Measures required (cont….)
- Providing clearer guidelines for the courts when determining access disputes between farmers and miners;
- Separating the role of promoting mining from the approval and regulatory functions by relocating them into two different Government agencies to remove present conflicts of interest.
- Undertaking a systemic review of mining regulations and practices to ensure exploration/mining companies are held accountable and penalised for illegal or unethical activities.
WHAT IS NEEDED
A commitment from All political parties to implement effective measures to redress the power imbalance between the mining industry and other land users.
For more information about exploration/mining on Yorke Peninsula, or to learn more about the work of YPLOG, go to