A coal miner based in the Southern Highlands wants the law to be changed after it lost a court case over access to farmland for mining exploration.
Hume Coal, which is owned by Korean steel giant POSCO, wants to mine under farmland at Sutton Forest.
But landowners opposing the plan won an appeal in the Land and Environment Court which bars the miner from exploration drilling on some property of farmers who reject access to “improved” lands.
The decision, from Chief Judge Brian Preston, could shake up exploration rules across NSW. Previously, farmers could not block access on unimproved land, but that definition has now been clarified.
Hume Coal project manager Greig Duncan said the decision would have “severe ramifications”, which would include “potentially sterilising highly valued and essential resources”.
He called on the NSW government to conduct another review of land access laws, for a result more favourable to the mining industry.
"It is now up to the NSW State Government to review the land access laws and regulations, so that the exploration industry can continue to progress opportunities, employment and the economy for the people of NSW," Mr Duncan said.
Sutton Forest landowner Peter Martin, the successful plaintiff in the court case, slammed the miner’s demand as “pathetic”.
“if the law is actually applied as it’s meant to be applied, they say the law’s got to be changed.
He said there had already been a review of land access laws in 2014-15 by top lawyer Bret Walker SC – who went on to appear for Mr Martin in this case.
“The Government has done a very thorough review of land access based on the things people like us were saying to them,” Mr Martin said.
The case will have been watched closely by the mining lobby and their lawyers.
Mr Duncan said the company would push on with its plans.
"Despite the unfavourable ruling, Hume Coal is focused on continuing down the approval path and delivering its low-impact mining project, which has been designed to preserve and protect the region for future generations.”
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