Lock the Gate Alliance has welcomed news the destructive Shenhua Watermark coal mine is looking increasingly uncertain, but has warned the NSW Government not to stuff up negotiations with the company and give it any more special deals like it did four years ago.
The warning comes after Deputy Premier John Barilaro told media this morning that Shenhua may be forced to re-evaluate the prospects for its Watermark Coal Mine on the Liverpool Plains because the financial landscape had changed since the project was first proposed.
Mr Barilaro said, “The environment itself in relation to mining has changed a little bit, investment out of China has changed, so we’re having some negotiations to see what the future of that particular mining lease looks like.”
However, LTGA is concerned because Mr Barilaro also said a payment extension had been granted to the company by the State Government, “they’ve got an extension for a few months in relation to paying their first installment.”
Shenhua has applied for the mining license, however it is yet to be granted. If it is, the company is then required to pay $200M to the NSW Government.
In 2019, it was revealed that two years earlier, the NSW government had wasted $262 million of taxpayers' money “buying” a piece of an exploration tenement that was no longer wanted or needed by Shenhua.
Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods welcomed the news Shenhua may not proceed with its destructive coal mine, which would be built among some of the nation’s best food growing country.
“The Shenhua Watermark coal mine is a proposal of the very worst sort - it would destroy prime farmland, destroy First Nations cultural sites, and wipe out a colony of koalas,” she said.
However, Ms Woods said it was concerning that the government had granted an extension to Shenhua.
“The government’s track record negotiating with Shenhua is not impressive, however we hope that if this is an opportunity to stop this destructive coal mine, the NSW Government seizes the opportunity and sends Shenhua packing,” she said.
“The Chinese Government has indicated recently that it’s not accepting Australian coal, so it should be a no-brainer to take this project off the table.
“We’re calling on Mr Barilaro to recognise the vast damage this mine would cause in our national food bowl on the Liverpool Plains, and back farmers by knocking this project over once and for all. There should be no more special deals for Shenhua.”