A legal dispute between ERO Georgetown Gold Operations and local landholders in northern Queensland saw the miner block the access road to a property near Georgetown in 2013. Image: Queensland Country Life.

By Samantha James

THE Queensland Government has passed legislation protecting existing farm infrastructure from proposed mining projects and restoring community objection rights to re-establish a “balance between the rights of farmers, miners and the community”.

Queensland State Development and Natural Resources and Mines minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the Mineral and Other Legislation Amendment Bill fulfilled two Palaszczuk Government commitments.

“The legislation passed today fulfils the government’s commitments to restore community objection rights to proposed mining projects, and to protect key agricultural infrastructure,” he said. “As per our commitments, we have re-established the right for anyone to object to a proposed mining project on broad grounds. Landholders will also have the right to say no to resource activities beside their key infrastructure.”

The legislation, which is effective from September, reinstates rights removed by the previous Liberal National Party (LNP) Government and prevents provisions they put into place from taking effect.

Under the new legislation, landholders will retain at least a 50m protection zone around key agricultural infrastructure including principal stockyards, bores and artesian wells, and dams and artificial water storages connected to a water supply.

Landholders will also have the right to prevent any mining lease being granted over restricted land without the consent of the owner, and community members will have a say on mining lease and environmental authority applications for mining projects.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said the industry agreed the community should have an avenue for their concerns to be heard about mining projects, however “this should not equate to multiple years in the Land Court spent frustrating and delaying what is supposed to be an administrative process only, not a Hollywood-style courtroom hearing”.

“At a cost of about $1 million a day spent in court, this is an unacceptable message to send out to investors and potential investors in Australia and overseas,” he said.

Dr Lynham maintained that the resource sector would benefit from the Queensland Land Court having a new power to strike out any “frivolous or vexatious” objections.