UPDATED: Concern peaks as mining Bill passes lower house

UPDATED: Concern peaks as mining Bill passes lower house

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Communities and industry groups descended onto the steps of SA's Parliament House today to voice their concerns about the proposed amendments to the Mining Act 1971.

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MUCH to the ire of many of the state's farmers the amendments to the Mining Act 1971 have passed the House of Assembly after debate well into the night.

Based on sentiment within their electorates, four Liberal MP's, Member for Narungga Fraser Ellis, Member for MacKillop Nick McBride, Davenport MP Steve Murray and Kavel MP Dan Cregan voted against the changes.

They were joined by independent members Troy Bell, Geoff Brock and Frances Bedford, but it easily passed with bipartisan support.

The last remaining hurdle to the Statutes Amendment (Mineral Resources) Bill is the Legislative Council where it will be debated later this year but Mr Brock also intends to to push for a Parliamentary Inquiry into land access for mining.

Mr Brock said advocated for the Bill to held back.

"We were unable to do that but I still believe there needs to be an inquiry," he said.

At the end of this month, Mr Brock will introduce the Commission of Inquiry (Land Access in the Mining Industry) Bill 2019 to Parliament.

"Both agriculture and mining industries agree we need to look more closely at access so we want to see the mining and opal mining bills reviewed," he said.

"The review will also look into practices of interstate and overseas jurisdictions - it is about balancing the right of landholders and those seeking to access the land."

Mount Benson farmer Merilyn Paxton, who was among the protesters on the steps of Parliament House yesterday, says it is "disappointing but not surprising" mining has been put ahead of SA's biggest income earner, agriculture.

"For people in intensive resources areas it is a terribly troubling thing but every square inch of SA is covered with an easement of tenement for minerals, be it silver, iron ore, copper, uranium or gas and oil," she said.

"Agriculture is worth $6.6 billion to SA's economy and listening to the debate they talked about wanting mining to become the equivalent of that, that can't possibly happen particularly when you are talking about open cut mining interfering with ag land, ag will suffer."

Ms Paxton says farmers' push for increased rights dealing with mining companies have been ignored.

"All most of those farmers (on the steps of Parliament House) wanted was the right to say no," she said.

"The Mining Minister (Dan van Holst Pellekaan) spoke last night in Parliament about the fact that most farmers come to an agreement with mining companies, but really they have no choice and have to make the best of a bad lot, if he was so confident why not include the right to veto?" she said.

Arthurton cropper Ashley Nankivell said the passing of the Bill was not unexpected.

"It is pretty disappointing," he said.

Mr Nankivell believed an independent review of the bill was required.

"It should have happened before a decision was made - a bill cannot be passed and then fixed up later," he said.

Mr Nankivell said Yorke Peninsula farmers would not benefit from mining in the region.

"There has been a lot of talk about farmers supplementing income with mining but I do not believe that will be a major driver for the industry on the YP," he said.

"We are a reliable area so we would not benefit from allowing mining companies to work in a bad season to help with income stream."

The SA Chamber of Mines and Energy has welcomed the passage of the Bill saying it is a positive step in improving the Mining Act for all stakeholders.

SACOME president Greg Hall said it was an important first step to "modernising" a 48-year-old piece of legislation.

"We have consistently supported passage of the Bill in its current form, noting our concerns with the approvals process under the Act are not yet addressed," he said.

"SACOME will continue to support consultation needed to reform the oldest mining legislation in the country, ensuring it is fit for our modern mining industry and that it upholds the behavioural practices demanded by the SA public."

Grain Producers SA has not supported the passing of the Bill.

GPSA chair Wade Dabinett said he was disappointed the government's decision to charge ahead with the changes meant "prime agricultural land was at risk of destruction".

"GPSA will continue to call for an independent review of the Mining Act to be conducted completely separately from the Department for Energy and Mining," he said.

Mr Dabinett said GPSA's advocacy efforts would not stop with this vote and would continue to advocate on behalf of landholders for fairer land access provisions which the present Bill did not address.

Arthurton Cropper Rex Davey attended the rally and said mining had short term gains but "long-term damage".

"Reliable farm land should be retained for farming only - it needs to remain an agriculture asset," he said.

"I would like to see amendments made so that all land inside Goyder's Line should be exempt from mining pressures."

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