For fears of encroaching mining operations inhibiting rural residential quality of life, Queensland, Australia’s Premier Anna Bligh has announced a freeze on granting new exploration permits within a 2-kilometer boundary of towns with 1,000 people or more. The move will likely see litigation cases arise as mining companies already hold roughly 285 concessions in zones that violate the new boundaries.
"If governments are going down that path, they have to look at some compensation," AMEC chief executive Simon Bennison said. "They've granted a right and if they take away that right, I can't see how they (the government) can avoid it without serious risk of litigation."
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Opponents to the new mining-free zone claim that there are several towns that have fewer than 1,000 people that will not be protected by the buffer zone. Furthermore, many of those towns of 1,000 people or more are located in areas where mining permits would be difficult to acquire as is. Premier Bligh’s response is that she is simply formalizing a practice that has always occurred in Queensland.
"What that means is that those people whose homes are covered by an exploration permit can have their minds put at rest," Ms Bligh said.
The region has experienced ongoing turmoil in a feud pitting agriculture against mining. Rural farmers want the right to require miners to ask for written permission to explore mining concessions on their land. Coal seam gas development being of particular concern, opposition to the new buffer zone rule believe that the stipulations aren’t going far enough to protect farmers.
In regard to the 285 mining concessions to be repealed by the government, Premier Bligh has made clear that no compensation will be granted.