Grain growers urge changes to mining review

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Grain growers urge changes to mining review and extension for submissions

GRAIN growers have questioned the independence of a review of South Australia’s mining laws and the short-time frame for responses during the peak harvesting season.

Grain Producers South Australia chief executive Darren Arney said that the review by the Department of State Development is flawed because the department is also the promoter of the state’s mining industry and the regulator.

“For the Department of State Development to conduct the review, it is like playing a football game with umpires from only one team on the field,” Mr Arney said.

“Independence cannot be guaranteed when the department is so close to the mining and approvals process and so far removed from primary production.”

Mr Arney said the grain sector believes that along with the independent review of the mining acts, a review of the dual roles of the Department of State Development should also be undertaken.

The grain industry has an export value of more than $2 billion annually and must be a key part of the review, given the potential of the mining industry to impact on agricultural production, Mr Arney said.

GPSA’s preferred option for the review was either an independent panel, or at least an independent arbitrator as had occurred recently when the New South Wales and Queensland governments reviewed their acts.

GPSA is also seeking an extension to the consultation period because harvesting in the next eight weeks is the busiest time of the year for farmers and they need to focus on it, Mr Arney said.

“Given that 41.5 per cent of South Australia’s land area — including 95 per cent of Yorke Peninsula and 90 per cent of Eyre Peninsula — are subject to

mining exploration leases, we know the farmers in these areas will want to have direct input to the process,” he said

“It is just not fair to growers to conduct such an important review in their busiest time of year.” Mr Arney said that a deadline of March 2017 would be fairer than December 2016.

GPSA has written to Premier Jay Weatherill highlighting these issues and outlined further impacts of mining on the grains industry, as outlined in GPSA’s mining policy.

There is only one operating mine below Goyder’s Line in South Australia and it is GPSA’s policy to keep mining out of cropping land, Mr Arney said.

Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy Tom Koutsantonis announced the mining act review on September 25, inviting South Australians to provide their input into the comprehensive review of the laws.

Mr Koutsantonis said the reform of the mining acts will seek to provide a range of benefits including bringing forward the economic and social benefits of the state’s mineral wealth, growing SA businesses and driving investment and employment.

Parliament will consider amendments to the mining acts next year to allow for the modernisation of the laws to ensure South Australia remains a leader in adopting modern and efficient practices for exploration and mining activities, he said.

A discussion paper is expected to be released by the Government in November.

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