Revealed: Vast areas of farmland in hands of coal companies

Published: January 17, 2015

New research by the Lock the Gate Alliance has revealed the scale of farmland and public land in New South Wales being bought by multi-national mining companies, including large areas of mapped strategic agricultural land in the Hunter Valley.

New research by the Lock the Gate Alliance has revealed the scale of farmland and public land in New South Wales being bought by multi-national mining companies, including large areas of mapped strategic agricultural land in the Hunter Valley.

The analysis shows that coal companies have bought up vast areas of freehold land, including much of the highest quality agricultural land, in the Hunter Valley and Gunnedah Basin. In total, coal companies now own more than 702,000 acres of freehold land, an area larger than the entire Australian Capital Territory.

In the Muswellbrook Local Government Area, coal companies now own 24% of all freehold land and 23% of all mapped Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land, and in the Singleton Local Government Area, they own 15% of all freehold land and 27% of all mapped Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land.

Stewart Mitchell is a local Hunter Valley historian and resident of Bulga village, much of which is slated to be purchased by international mining giant, Rio Tinto for the expansion of their Mount Thorley Warkworth mine complex.

Mr Mitchell said, “The scale of land ownership by coal mining companies in the Hunter Valley has long been a cause of anxiety and speculation. Coal mining companies own not just the area being affected by mining, but huge numbers of properties that have been rendered unliveable by the noise and dust impacts of nearby mines.

“The destruction of flourishing rural villages by multi-national coal mining companies is unique to this part of New South Wales. We don’t want Bulga to go the way of so much of the Valley, bought up by huge mining companies to leave to rot and ruin.”

Lock the Gate NSW Coordinator Georgina Woods said, “With so much floodplain land and productive farmland in the hands of mining companies, we are neglecting the great food growing potential of the Hunter Valley, and we’re at real risk of repeating this mistake in the Liverpool Plains and beyond.

“This map clearly shows that the balance has gone too far towards multinational mining giants. Scores more properties are slated to be bought by coal giants if the next round of mine expansions go ahead, in some of our best floodplain land. We’ve simply got to stop mindlessly flogging off the farm, and tell the coal industry that they’ve taken more than enough of the Hunter Valley already.”

Read more about the research and access a map of coal company owned land here

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