The application for a mining exploration licence that covers a large swathe of the Tweed Shire continues to raise concerns for Tweed Shire Councillors and residents.
The application, that was lodged in early October 2020, covers 118 square kilometre corridor from Bilambil Heights in the north to Dunbible in the south. It relates to the exploration of metallic minerals including gold, silver and copper.
At the previous Tweed Shire Council meeting (4 February) Councillors noted that the Minister for Regional NSW had responded to their letter in mid-October that objected ‘in the strongest terms to the Exploration (Minerals) Licence Application ELA 6115 in the Tweed Shire’.
While there is no exploration on private land without the written consent of the landholder and no exploration in National Parks or nature reserves Mayor Chris Cherry (Independent) said mining consent on council land needed clarification.
Mayor Cherry told the meeting that she had ‘heard very strongly that people don’t want the mining to happen’.
The majority of councillors, with Cr Pryce Allsop (Conservative) against, voted to write back to the minister ‘to reiterate our deep concerns with regards to gold exploration/mining in the Tweed Shire due to the international significance of the environment and scenic landscape of this Shire, and…’ that the Council does ‘Not support gold exploration or mining activities on Council owned land and any requests for such, including for owners consent to lodge an application, or request for access must be brought to a Council meeting for determination.’
Courts can rule for mining
Councillor Katie Milne (Greens) clarified that while access arrangements are required for the mining exploration to take place on private land a landholder cannot always refuse consent.
‘It is shocking for a lot of people to find out that while they get compensated they don’t have the right to say no. If the negotiation between the landholder and mining company is not successful then it can be taken to court for approval,’ said Cr Milne.
‘It could be a very big and concerning issue for what is actually an internationally environmentally significant area. The Gondwana rainforest (UNESCO world heritage) is the best example (of the most extensive area of subtropical rainforest) in the world. I think sometimes the state government does not remember that we are an internationally significant environment. We have a very big duty to protect this area. Any mining – including water, sand, and gas – all has a very large impact on our landscape.
‘The land area covered (by the mining exploration licence) is absolutely vast – if it gets approved we may be in the shock of our lives.’