SA mining act review attracts 131 submissions from farmers, miners and industry groups

LANDOWNERS and exploration companies are among 131 groups to lodge submissions arguing their case over the current review of South Australia’s mining act.

A spokesman for Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said “once submissions are consolidated” they would be made public but this could be months away as officials sifted through the reports.

“The department is now consolidating the feedback and will announce the forward community engagement and legislative schedule in coming months,” he said.

There were 67 submissions from individual landowners, seven from landowner representative bodies along with others from exploration and mining companies, industry bodies and Aboriginal groups.

Submissions were received over six months ending on March 31, with more than 700 email inquiries also received by the Department of State Development (DSD) in the review of the Mining Act 1971.

Grain Producers SA lodged an extensive submission with the group calling for more rights for landowners forced to allow mining to occur on their properties and raising concerns about the review process.

Grain Producers SA chief executive Darren Arney said the group believed the review should be overseen by an independent panel “given DSD’s role as both promoter and regulator of the mining industry, we feel that independence cannot be guaranteed.”

The group submission, representing 3,000 grain growing businesses in South Australia, called for new rights to block mining or drilling on farmers’ land saying it had a major impact on their businesses.

But the spokesman for Mr Koutsantonis said: “the department is best placed to undertake the review because department officers are in constant contact with landowners and industry participants and are acutely aware of the need to update legislation to ensure it keeps pace with stakeholder expectations.”

“Mining and farming are both vital industries for South Australia, and it is important that both industries continue to be able to contribute to the state in a balanced way,” he said.

The State Government has been under pressure from farmers concerned that the mining act allowed an explorer to enter a farmer’s land with 21 days’ notice with landowners only able to contribute to conditions of access.

Meanwhile, angered farmers in the South East continue to lobby the State Government over their concerns about its support of further gas exploration in the region, raising concerns about drilling impacting on groundwater.

Post time: May-02-2017