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Mining and Agriculture – Is co-existence possible?

Tue 27, Feb 2018

Ag Institute Australia (AIA) is calling for protection for prime agricultural land from mining activities, while acknowledging the two industries can work together effectively.

The stance from the peak body representing agricultural professionals in Australia is encapsulated in the organisation’s latest policy statement, Mining and Co-Existence on Agricultural Land.

AIA Chair Andrew Bishop says the first AIA policy statement to be published for 2018 covers off on a very important topic, involving at times the competing interests of two industries.   

“Mining, and mining exploratory operations, can have significant physical impacts on land and when that land holds agricultural value, what may be a positive for one industry may be a negative for another,” Mr Bishop explains.

“In recent years, operations to access coal seam gas under land of agricultural importance has resulted in some significant industry collisions. 

“This policy statement spells out the basis for a successful co-existence between the industries, cleverly recognising the contributions of both industries to Australia’s economy and presenting the basis of what can be a successful co-existence, while minimising the harm to agriculture.”

The key points in the policy statement are;

  • Mining activities must not destroy prime agricultural land 
  • No mining activity should be allowed to pollute the landscape (or underground aquifers
  • There must be no net detrimental impact on underground water supplies for agricultural or domestic use 
  • Resource activity must not occur unless landholder agrees or the land court makes a determination
  • Agricultural activities/operations must have priority over resource activities
  • Landowner compensation must recognise and address all impacts of mining activity including social, financial, amenity and lifestyle. 

With the global population now at 7.6 billion people, Mr Bishop says recognising and protecting the status of agricultural producers and prime land is critical.

“Agriculture’s mission to feed the world is becoming no less important and is in fact a life and death situation now and into the future,” he says.

“Ensuring it is protected without undue restriction on other industries that also feed the economy makes a lot of sense to me.”

The Mining and Co-Existence on Agricultural Land Policy Paper was developed by AIA’s Advocacy and Policy Special Interest Group. You can find the Policy Paper here.

More policy statements are currently being signed off by the AIA board and are expected to be released over the next month. These include policies on effective Research, Development and Extension models, and on Climate Change. These will be published on the AIA website here.



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