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Minerals Sector welcomes reforms to prevent Green sabotage

20/08/2015

The minerals sector welcomes the introduction of legislation to make it harder for radical environmental groups to deliberately sabotage mining projects through vexatious and incessant legal challenges.

The current raft of legal actions was explicitly foreshadowed in the Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom strategy developed or supported by radical green groups including Greenpeace, Coalswarm, the Australia Institute and 350.org.

That strategy made plain the intentions of these groups:

“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’

These challenges threaten thousands of jobs in the Australian mining sector, and many more in related services industries.

These changes do not weaken the ability of individuals or groups to participate in comprehensive environmental assessment processes 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.

It is obvious that legal appeals are slowing projects. A Productivity Commission report on major project development assessment processes found that the time between an approval being granted and the determination of court challenges for coal projects ranged from 7 months to more than 24 months.

Industry estimates suggest that a one year delay in a project can reduce the net present value of a project by up to 13 per cent.

Eliminating unnecessary delays will produce a substantial dividend for the national economy.

A BAEconomics study commissioned by the MCA 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.