Protections for landholders

The four Liberal MPs who crossed the floor to vote against their Government last week made a bold move.
It’s comforting for residents in their electorates to know their MPs are willing to advocate for their concerns, even if may mean opposing their Party’s policy.
With mining activities occurring in the Hills for many years, some local landholders have taken a keen interest in the mining reforms.
There is a danger that the cards are stacked in favor of miners when it comes to land access rights.
Often they have more financial resources than farmers do, leaving them in a better position if a land access matter goes to court.
Governments, which are responsible for approving or rejecting mining activities, also receive royalties from mines – money they don’t receive from the agriculture industry.
Additionally, not all land is the same and not all mines are equal.
Mining in an arid backwater is different to mining in a highly fertile agricultural region.
Large open cut mines are different to underground mines with smaller above-ground footprints.
Legislation that acts as a ‘one size fits all’ may not provide the necessary protections and balances that such complex industries require and it’s important a fair balance is achieved between mining and farming.
The State’s Mining Minister has promised to continue to look for ways to improve the legislation, saying the current changes are just a step in the right direction.
It would be reasonable for him to outline exactly how and when he will review the legislation.
Farmers and MPs alike have advocated for SA to adopt laws more similar to other states, which afford extra protections for highly arable land and better compensation for farmers whose land is accessed by mining companies. Farms are not always easy to buy and sell and often families have farmed the same land for generations.
If a highly valuable mineral deposit is found under a farm, it’s essential that the compensation offered considers more than just the value of the land.
The mining reforms drew particular attention from Hills farmers, some of whom are concerned that a proposal to mine gold at the old Bird in Hand mine in Woodside could damage the local aquifer.
Terramin has recently lodged a mining lease application for the mine, outlining in detail how it plans to manage and protect groundwater. But – regardless of the passage of the mining Bill – it’s imperative that the Government does not allow the mine to go ahead if there’s any real chance of it damaging the water table.