The 10-million-tonne Shenhua Watermark coal mine project on the Liverpool Plains has been cancelled, with future mining on the site prohibited under environmental legislation.
The New South Wales Government and the Chinese energy giant reached an agreement on Tuesday evening, after six months of negotiations ‘behind closed doors’.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced the news to a crowd of around 50 local farmers, advocates, and Indigenous elders, who put up a 13-year fight against the mine, that the state has paid $100 million to buy back Shenhua’s exploration license.
“As of 4.30pm yesterday the Shenhua company has signed with the NSW government where we will now extinguish the mining licence forever and a day," he said.
"The development consent will also be relinquished”.
This move follows a refund by the NSW government in 2017 of $262 million to Shenhua to buy back 51 per cent of the mine.
Mr Barilaro told the crowd that the whole area which was covered by the exploration license, which included bio-diverse reserves and sacred Aboriginal sites, will now be prohibited to coal and gas mining under the ‘state environmental planning policy’.
The news comes as a huge relief to those who have long opposed the project, fearing the mine would destroy the regions rich food production, damage local groundwater and threaten a habitat of around 25 koalas.
The decision was said to be made due to the “shifting economic and social circumstances since the project first commenced in 2008”.