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NSW Gov bans offshore petroleum and mineral mining

The New South Wales Government has banned seabed petroleum and mineral mining off the state’s coast.

The government secured support from across the New South Wales Parliament to implement the ban, making New South Wales the first state in Australia to prohibit seabed petroleum and mineral exploration and mining.

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Seabed Mining and Exploration) Bill 2024 amends the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 to prohibit:

  • Seabed petroleum and mineral exploration and recovery in New South Wales coastal waters; and

  • Other development within the state for the purposes of seabed petroleum and mineral exploration and recovery anywhere

The New South Wales Government said the bill affirms its commitment to protecting New South Wales coastal waters from offshore mining activities.

The government said these activities can have a devastating effect on marine wildlife by releasing toxic materials, destroying habitats and creating harmful sediment levels. 

The bill is designed to stop severe environmental damage that can result from offshore exploration and drilling, including oil spills and greenhouse gas emissions.

The ban exempts coastal protection works, including beach nourishment and beach scraping, which involves removing a layer of sand from the foreshore and transferring it to a different location on that same beach. 

Certain dredging activities, not involving mineral exploration or recovery, which are required as routine practice with environmental and economic benefits, will also continue, including laying pipelines or submarine cables.

New South Wales Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Penny Sharpe, said, “The damage from seabed exploration and mining is significant. It threatens our state’s sensitive marine environments, coastal areas and Indigenous heritage.

“With broad support, the New South Wales Government has taken a responsible and balanced approach to banning seabed mining and protecting our marine environment into the future,” Ms Sharpe said.

New South Wales Minister for the Central Coast, David Harris, said, “Not only does this ban keep our waters clean and our marine life healthy, but it also gives certainty to coastal communities, like mine on the Central Coast who are overwhelmingly against offshore mining.

“I am pleased to be a part of a government that not only listens to the community but also acts in their best interests,” Mr Harris said.

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