New planning laws could impact value of future mines

Anglo American’s Drayton South expansion project in the Hunter Valley was refused consent again on Thursday.

The NSW government is now considering whether to change planning laws to allow it to refuse applications that have been repeatedly rejected in the past.

Anglo American has been seeking approval for Drayton South since in 2012.

Former planning minister Rob Stokes had already begun drawing up options to be able to cancel exploration licences after multiple rejections of a planning application.

Now Planning Minister Anthony Roberts has asked his department ‘to develop options for consultation that will provide guidance on how many times and how frequently a project that is not substantially different can be submitted to government for approval’.

Mine expansions in the Hunter Valley could in future come up against greater hurdles in the approval process.

Coal & Allied’s Mt Thorley Warkworth expansion application – which is set to be taken over by Chinese-controlled Yancoal – also went through a process of approvals and rejections in the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) and NSW Land and Environment Court for a number of years.

New legislation restricting applications could impact on the value of Hunter Valley assets, as avenues for expansion are removed. This may be unwelcome news for those miners looking to increase the value of their assets before flipping them to interested buyers.