Lightning Ridge miners’ concerns
‘exaggerated, hyperbole’ – farmers
FARMERS have rejected as “exaggerated” claims by Lightning Ridge opal miners that State Government policies are placing the industry at risk.
A campaign by the Lightning Ridge Miners’ Association is claiming that the opal mining industry, which operates on privately held farm land, should not have to comply with modern environmental standards or stump up for the cost their activities impose on landholders, says New South Wales Farmers’ Association CEO Matt Brand.
He says his organisation’s support for better regulation is not aimed at stopping the growth of the industry.
“We recognise the important role the opal mining industry plays in the economy and character of Lightning Ridge, however, it’s time for the gold rush mentality to make way for modern regulation.
“The fact is the rules around land access, rehabilitation and compensation have broken down and are no longer serving farmers or miners.
“NSW Farmers isn’t seeking to limit the growth of the industry – we simply want to ensure that regulations are appropriate, enforced and allow both industries to prosper.
“The reality is that we are both running a business on the same piece of land.
“It’s an unusual situation and not an easy relationship.
“Unless we get on the front foot and make changes now we’ll be here having this same conversation in 10 years time.
“That doesn’t deliver certainty for agriculture or opal mining,” says Mr Brand.
NSW Farmers supports the NSW Government’s attempts to broker a solution on these issues, he says.
“We are calling on all stakeholders to take an evidence-based approach rather than resorting to hyperbole,” Mr Brand says.