Coal mining will not occur under the famous black soils of Liverpool Plains after the NSW Government secured a buy-back of the Caroona mining exploration licence issued by the former Labor Government on some of Australia’s most productive farming land.


The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government announced that it has reached a commercial agreement with BHP Billiton to buy back the Caroona exploration licence – issued in 2006 for underground coal mining covering approximately 344 square kilometres in the Liverpool Plains.


Deputy Premier and Leader of the NSW Nationals Troy Grant joined Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Premier and Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson today at Caroona on the Liverpool Plains.


Mr Anderson said he welcomed the announcement and congratulated the Premier and the Deputy Premier for securing the buy-back on behalf of the local community.


“I believe this buy-back is the right decision as mining on the black soil is not an option,” Mr Anderson said.


“I have continually said we need to protect the black soil and today the NSW Government has made that commitment to do so.


“Agriculture and mining can and should co-exist in appropriate areas and the sensitive black soil is not an appropriate place for mining.”


Mr Grant said the announcement was a significant step to protect prime agricultural land and that a dark cloud over the Liverpool Plains has been lifted.


"Labor recklessly issued this licence and it has taken the hard work of the NSW Nationals and our coalition colleagues to finally clean up Labor's mess,” Mr Grant said.

“The Liverpool Plains black soil is one of our most precious resources and today we have taken this major step to secure its long-term future.


“The NSW Nationals team is committed to protecting prime agricultural land.”


Premier Mike Baird said the decision to buy back the Caroona licence was in line with advice from the NSW Planning Assessment Commission, which recommended the Government prohibit mining on the black soil plains.


“After careful consideration, the NSW Government has determined that coal mining under these highly fertile black soil plains, as proposed by Labor, poses too great a risk for the future of this food-bowl and the underground water sources that support it.


Mr Baird said that coal mining in NSW has a long and promising future, but that the NSW Government would increase its efforts to remove all coal exploration licences from the strategic agricultural land of the Liverpool Plains. 


The Premier acknowledged the constructive role BHP Billiton had played in reaching agreement to rescind its licence to protect the black soils and indicated that negotiations with Shenhua had commenced to secure the excise of the parts of its mining title that is close to the strategic agricultural land of the Liverpool Plains.

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