Parliament to explore productive uses of land after mines close


With a number of significant mining sites slated for closure in the coming decade, the NSW Parliament will launch an inquiry to investigate new and innovative approaches to post-mining land use.

The inquiry will help ensure these sites can continue to bring economic investment and opportunities to regional communities even after the mines close.

There are more than 50 large active mine sites across NSW, 37 of which are coal mines. There are other sites which were previously used for mining which continue to offer opportunities for new, productive uses of land.

Minister for Natural Resources Courtney Houssos has written to Emily Suvaal, chair of NSW Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on State Development, asking her to undertake the inquiry.

A number of new post-mining land uses are already being progressed in NSW.

Earlier this year, the NSW Resources Regulator signed off on the rehabilitation of part of the old Rhondda Colliery in Lake Macquarie. The Black Rock Motor Park and Tourism Resort will take over part of the site, bringing 450 jobs during construction and 229 permanent roles.

BHP’s Mt Arthur, Idemitsu’s Muswellbrook coal mine, and Yancoal’s Stratford coal mine are investigating opportunities for pumped hydro and other clean energy uses.

The inquiry will consider how to accelerate and facilitate these uses, including through:

  • the development of sites for use for advanced manufacturing, commercial and tourism use,
  • reforms to the rehabilitation and planning regulatory frameworks which support mines,
  • opportunities to promote the development of solar farms, pumped hydro and other clean energy industries which may be particularly suited to the form and nature of former mine sites,
  • what investments in skills and training are needed to support the mining workforce,
  • the potential of unlocking surrounding land for residential dwellings, amenities, environmental and educational facilities, and
  • the compatibility of post mining land sites with commercial projects.

The inquiry is part of the government’s efforts to support mining communities, in particular where coal mining plays an important economic role in the region.

The NSW Labor Government has already committed $5.2 million to establish Future Jobs and Investment Authorities in four coal-producing regions across the state. The authorities will work with the Commonwealth Government’s Net Zero Authority to support workers, industries and NSW coal mining communities.

Minister for Natural Resources Courtney Houssos said:

“Mining is a temporary use of land. We need to make sure NSW has the right policy mix to keep employment and economic opportunities even after mines close.

“I was privileged to turn the sod on the Black Rock Motor Resort earlier this year and witness the opportunities that can be created from these old mine sites.

“We will work with industry, local government and unions to bring forward these exciting opportunities.

“This is an important inquiry that will help us deliver positive community benefits in regional areas across NSW.

“We need to make sure these large mine sites can continue to be put to economically productive and efficient use long into the future.”

Chair, Standing Committee on State Development Emily Suvaal said:

“As a Hunter-based MP, I am committed to ensuring our mining communities across the state have a vibrant economic future, with secure, well-paid, local jobs.

“Exploring how we can improve the use of post-mining land is crucial for the continued success of our rural and regional communities, who have contributed so much to our state’s success.

“As chair of the State Development Committee, I am committed to conducting a robust and thorough inquiry into post-mining land use that will provide a blueprint for the economic future of our mining communities.”

Full terms of reference:

That the committee inquire into and report on beneficial and productive post-mining land use, and in particular:

  • The benefits of having multiple successive land uses including the positive benefits for local communities and the economy, business, industry, and the broader state.
  • Changes in land use potential and demand in established or traditional mining areas, particularly those generated by the decarbonised economy, renewable technology, manufacturing, defence, skills, and training.
  • Opportunities for investment and growth in training and skills in established or traditional mining areas, including:
    • The need to reskill and or retrain current workforces.
    • The impact and effectiveness of existing and new education, training, and skills providers for mining communities.
  • Opportunities to encourage innovative post-mining land uses including:
    • The planning and implementation of essential supporting infrastructure for future site use.
    • The development of solar farms, pumped hydro, and other clean energy industries.
    • The compatibility of post mining land sites with commercial projects.
    • The potential of unlocking surrounding land for residential dwellings, amenities, environmental and educational facilities.
    • Potential exploration of former and legacy mining sites with modern mining technology to explore deposits in tailings and closed sites.
    • The development of sites for use for advanced manufacturing, commercial and industrial use.
  • How to ensure the benefit from innovative post mine land uses are shared between the community and mine operators.
  • The expectations of mining communities in relation to post-mine land use, and how to balance this with innovative reuse of existing infrastructure.
  • The need to develop a robust independent regulatory framework to maintain and advance best practice in this area.
  • Any other related matter.

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