DODGED: New Resource Minister Don Harwin didn’t directly answer questions about Shenhua put to him in parliament.THE new Resources Minister has remained tight-lipped on the future of the Shenhua coal mine on the Liverpool Plains.

The government has the power to cancel Shenhua’s exploration licence, as eight years have passed without the“substantial development” of a mine.

Shenhua has requested it be exempt from the deadline, which was October 22, 2016.

When quizzed on the exemption in parliament, Resource Minister Don Harwin refused to shed any light on the matter.

“A mining lease application has not yet been lodged over the area; however, when it is, it will be rigorously assessed in line with the legislation and current government policies, guidelines and procedures,” Mr Harwin told the parliament.

“The company submitted an application for renewal of its exploration licence. This will be assessed by my department before a recommendation is made to me to consider in due course in accordance with normal protocols.”

In August, the government startednegotiations with Shenhua to buy back parts of the mine that encroached onto the black-soil plain, however Mr Harwin offered no update to the parliament.

Caroona Coal Action Group (CCAG) has placed renewed pressure on Mr Harwin and Premier Gladys Berejiklian to resolve the situation, particularly given the precedent set by the government when it bought back the neighbouring BHP Caroona coal mine.

CCAG president Susan Lyle said after 10 years and six premiers, the people of the Liverpool Plains were still living in limbo.

“With so much at stake, everyone nation-wide, must understand the damage that will occur to both ground and surface water, agricultural production and of course the loss that will occur to the Aboriginal sacred sites and the endangered koala population,” Mrs Lylesaid.

“This is not the place for a thirty-year whim.

“It is now time to extinguish this non-compliant licence and put an end to this debacle.”

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