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Thursday, 15 March 2012
Page: 3187


Mr RAMSEY (Grey) (12:50): I rise to speak about the growing interface between mining and agriculture, particularly in South Australia but I think there are some lessons here for Australia more generally. Recently the state mining minister said there are—and I do not doubt these figures—20 operational mines in South Australia, 30 in the pipeline, including the Roxby Downs Olympic Dam development, and another 130 in development. Those numbers might be a little adjustable, but there is a lot of interest in the state. Almost all of these developments are in my electorate and it is a case of there being two worlds. In the remote regions, mining is generally welcomed by the land holders even though this is not always the case with traditional land holders where negotiations can be tough. But at the other end of the scale, the more closely settled farming lands often present quite a different story. The more closely settled, the higher the agricultural value, the more likely to have a population of life stylers, the more likely it is that miners will face major organised resistance.

There are a number of hotspots in my electorate at the moment. One is on the lower Eyre Peninsula where there are a number of strong iron prospects creating a fair amount of local tension. Apart from the landholders being worried about the immediate impacts, there is a strong community concern for the sustainability of the local water basins, which provide 85 per cent of the Eyre Peninsula water requirements of about nine gigalitres per annum. I welcome the South Australian parliamentary inquiry into the water supplies of Eyre Peninsula which, hopefully, will address some of these issues.

In the Ardrossan area on Yorke Peninsula, Rex Minerals are planning a major copper project. While community support is generally high because there will be major economic spin-offs for those communities, some landholders in the immediate vicinity are worried about the effects on their homes and businesses. As farmers—and I was a farmer and continue to own land—we know that we do not own the minerals. The state and the people do. However, farmers and landholders are feeling they are the second rate citizens in this deal, with less consideration than the state, with less consideration than the miner, and less rights than the traditional owners. Local resistance to these projects is a threat to their establishment, and companies should not underestimate the power of local lobby groups. I have been suggesting to companies involved that they have the ability to vastly decrease localised resistance to their operations by being far more generous with their targets. Typically, if mining is to occur, landholders are offered up to 150 per cent of the land's face value with the ultimate threat of compulsory acquisition in the government's and mining companies hands. Bear in mind that, in South Australia, the compulsory acquisition laws are not exactly the same as the Commonwealth's and in fact the premise of fair compensation does not exist in the South Australian act. At 150 per cent it is not much of a premium for the loss of many generational investments in the land and in the complete upheaval of a life time's commitment.

Agreed deals are shrouded in mystery and covered by in-confidence clauses in contracts. Landholders are in the dark as to the value their neighbours may have extracted by negotiations and they are worried they may be the weakest link or pilloried as the obstacle. No wonder there are a number of unhappy 'campers'. Now, I believe the industry would be far better served if they were to institute a code of practice where if they wished to mine a site, then they should be compelled to make a minimum offer of three or possibly four times the face value of the property. Then, instead of resistance they may find the landholders opening the gates for them. After all, if it is not worth that kind of sum, three to four times the face value, to the miner, then, considering production is probably destroyed for all time, perhaps the community would be better served to leave it as productive farming land. For that kind of compensation, a farmer may say, 'Yes, my family has been here for seven generations. Yes, it is my life's work. Yes, it is my home. With three times the value, four times the value, of my property I can buy in a better area, buy a property with better improvements, buy more land and increase my economic output.' However, at the moment they are offered little more than face value and you would wonder why any landholder would welcome the intrusion and interruption in their lives.