Tweed Shire Council will seek an urgent meeting with the NSW Aboriginal Land Council to discuss their plans to explore land near Murwillumbah for mining.
The land council recently sparked an outcry from local environmental and Aboriginal groups when it was revealed that it had applied for a petroleum special prospecting authority over three tranches of land in northern NSW, including one six kilometres southeast of Murwillumbah.
On Tuesday, Tweed councillors unanimously decided to ask the land council what its intentions were and to ask officers from the primary industries department to brief councillors on any current mining proposals for the shire and the regulatory framework involved.
The department had previously advised that they don’t have to publicly advertise or consult on the application; neither is it posted online on its website.
Mayor Barry Longland said it was of concern that the Tweed Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council was unaware of the prospecting applications.
Greens Cr Katie Milne said mining was ‘very inappropriate’ for a ‘very beautiful shire’ regarded as a ‘garden of Eden’ and no mining should be allowed on its farmland or other areas.
But her bid for council to ban mining altogether in the shire and to explore ways by which council could prevent mining was shot down.
Tweed Council’s chief planner Vince Connell said the primary industries department had advised that the prospecting application was ‘primarily a desktop evaluation of existing data, and involves no works, drilling, or site intervention’.
Mr Connell said council had not received any notification of the application from either the department or NSWALC.
NSWALC chief executive Geoff Scott told the Sydney Morning Herald that the land council was talking to a number of mining companies with a view to a venture partnership and that ‘our initial geology studies are showing their potential is enormous’.