AusBN - The New South Wales state government said it would repurchase half of a coal exploration licence from China Shenhua Energy, after a sustained campaign from environmentalists.
The state government confirmed it had agreed to pay AUS$262 million to the Chinese coal giant in return for 51.4% of an exploration licence on the Liverpool Plains, 400km Northwest of Sydney.
"Under this government there will be no more exploration and no mining on the fertile black-soil plains of the Liverpool Plains," NSW Minister for Resources Don Harwin told reporters in Sydney.
"The ridges are areas where exploration can continue but the fertile black soil of the Liverpool Plains will be protected from mining as a result of us buying back the exploration license today."
While this is a win for anti-mining activists, Phil Laird, national coordinator for environmental group Lock The Gate Alliance vowed to continue campaigning against all mining in the area.
Shenhua’s $1 billion Watermark mine has been a subject of controversy between pro-mining and pro-farming groups since the exploration licence was granted in 2008.
The Chinese firm said in an emailed statement it was disappointed by the government's move and would have mined the area responsibly, but added the buyback was an ‘acceptable financial outcome’.