NSW Government and Shenhua agree to end Watermark project

Published: 21 Apr 2021

The NSW Government and the China Shenhua Energy Company Limited (Shenhua) (Shenhua Watermark Coal Pty Ltd) have reached a $100 million agreement in which Shenhua will withdraw its mining lease application and surrender its development consent for the Shenhua Watermark Coal project. 

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the NSW Government will cancel Exploration Licence 7223, releasing Shenhua from its obligations under the exploration licence.  

“The NSW Government is committed to making NSW the number one investment destination for mining in Australia, but we need to find a balance, and this decision will deliver certainty to farmers and the Liverpool Plains community, while guaranteeing protection to parcels of land with high value biodiversity,” Mr Barilaro said.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government is committed to supporting the common sense, responsible development of our high-quality coal resources, however we are a balanced government, and we also need to protect prime agricultural land. 

“The cancellation of this project will mean that no open cut coal mining can occur in the area. Coal will of course continue to be an important part of our economy and is essential to supporting jobs, and the NSW Government continues to support coal exploration in areas where it makes sense,” Mr Perrottet said. 

The agreement includes:

  • certainty for local landholders and communities
  • prime agricultural farmland to be preserved through the relinquishment of the Shenhua Watermark development consent and exploration licence, and the prohibition of future coal mining projects on this site
  • the acquisition of more than 6000 hectares of high biodiversity land to be managed by Local Land Services including the protection of habitat for koalas and other endangered species
  • protecting significant Indigenous cultural sites and artefacts
  • ensuring that water that would have been taken by the mine can continue to be used for agriculture and other productive uses.

Mr Barilaro said this is about a balanced approach to deliver certainty to both the mining industry and farmers. 

“From the strategic release of land to support coal exploration in the right areas, to unlocking investment opportunities for high tech metals and critical minerals, mining remains a key priority for the state,” Mr Barilaro said. 

“The NSW Government thanks Shenhua for its cooperation in reaching this agreement.” 

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