How green groups are sabotaging the mining industry

Green groups are gaming legal and approvals processes to delay and stop mine projects, just as they said they would…

“Our first priority is to get in front of the critical projects to slow them down in the approvals process…”
“Our strategy is essentially to disrupt and delay key projects and infrastructure…”
“We will lodge legal challenges to the approval of all of the major new coal ports as well as key rail links (where possible), the mega-mines and several other mines chosen for strategic campaign purposes.”
By disrupting and delaying key projects, we are likely to make at least some of them unviable.”
‘Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom’

Delays can add hundreds of millions of dollars to project costs and lead to the loss of thousands of jobs.

A Productivity Commission (PC) report on major project development assessment processes found that the time between an approval being granted and the determination of a court challenge ranged from 7 months to than 24 months.
The costs associated with contrived delays to projects are substantial. For example, industry and Productivity Commission estimates suggest a one year delay to a large ‘greenfields’ project (of $3 to 4 billion) can reduce the Net Present Value (NPV) of a mining project by between 10 and 13 per cent.
For large projects, this could result in an NPV loss of at least $30 million each month.
Then there are the holding costs of keeping engineering contractors, consultants, internal resources, and procurement in a ‘holding pattern’ while delays are being addressed. For a large project these costs can be up to $16 million per month.
In total, unnecessary delays can add costs of $46 million per month to a major greenfields mining project.

The cost to the national economy is enormous.

Reducing these delays will bring a major dividend.
Detailed economic modelling by BAEconomics in 2014 found that reducing project delays by one year would add $160 billion to national output by 2025 and create 69,000 jobs across the whole economy over that period.
The modelling results showed that streamlining approval processes would reduce the costs of the minerals mining sector, which in turn, would improve the global competitiveness of the sector and help gain market share over overseas competitors.
Between 2014 and 2025, coal and iron ore export growth rates are projected to increase by 0.6 percentage points a year and 1.0 percentage point a year respectively if the approval times are reduced by one year.

Changes to the EPBC Act won’t prevent farm and environment groups from participating in approvals processes for mining projects.

These changes do not weaken the ability of individuals or groups to participate in the development of environmental impact assessments at the state and federal level. They simply remove the ability of groups not directly affected by the project to lodge legal challenges after the environmental approval has been granted.
There are extensive opportunities for public submissions during environmental assessment and approvals processes. Under the EPBC Act, public comments are called for at the project referral stage and upon publication of the environmental impact assessment. Comments can also be sought at the draft decision stage.
At the state level (Qld), public comment is sought on the draft terms of reference for the assessment and on publication of the draft environmental impact statement. The proponent is required to respond to all comments received on their draft environmental impact statement, including providing supplementary information. Under the terms of reference for their assessment, project proponents are required to develop and implement a comprehensive and inclusive stakeholder engagement plan.

Mining’s environmental footprint is tiny, and the benefits significant.

The mining sector occupies just 0.3 per cent of the national landscape, consumes just 3 per cent of water consumption but generates nearly 10 per cent of Gross Domestic Product, more than 20 per cent of corporate tax and 55 per cent of good exports.

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