A media statement by Shenhua Coal late yesterday raises alarm bells that they will use the $262M in taxpayer dollars paid by the NSW Government for relinquishing part of the exploration licence as payment to commence mining in the approved project area.
The Shenhua statement also contradicts statements by the NSW Government, by indicating that Shenhua has reached agreement with the NSW Government to have the remaining part of the exploration licence approved.
The NSW Government said yesterday that they had not yet reached a decision to renew the remaining licence area, whereas Shenhua state that “On 29 June 2017, Watermark Pty reached an agreement with the NSW Government in relation to partial extension of the exploration license”.
"Shenhua was always required to pay the NSW Government $200M if they planned to proceed with their mine and obtain a mining lease.
"Now taxpayers look set to foot that bill via the bizarre deal announced yesterday, which saw an exploration licence area extinguished in return for $262M, but no change to the approved mining area for the proposed Watermark mine.
"NSW taxpayers will actually be paying for Shenhua to develop this dangerous mine on the Liverpool Plains which will damage a vital national foodbowl.
"This is a perverse outcome for the NSW taxpayer and the local community - the NSW Government has paid to exclude areas that Shenhua never planned to mine, and in so doing effectively subsidised the development of this damaging project.
“This is a terrible precedent and a very bad outcome for the Liverpool Plains.
"Furthermore, the NSW Minister for Resources has still not been upfront with the community. He needs to come clean urgently – has the exploration licence being renewed for the mine site as Shenhua are saying?
“The local community deserve to know the status of this project – is the mining lease a done deal or not?
“This is one of the most poorly handled processes we have ever seen – to spend $262 million and not stop the Shenhua mine is an appalling failure that will cost local farmers and Australia dearly”.