Statutes Amendment (Mineral Resources) Bill

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (16:45): I rise to support the Statutes Amendment (Mineral Resources) Bill 2018. The debate is not dissimilar to the debate we had with the deregulation of the barley market in this house.

Mr PEDERICK: Thank you. The last time I looked, the Labor Party spoke as one. Perhaps they have had a road to Damascus moment, although I doubt it.

I do support the bill. I support it because this is actually an improvement on a mining act that goes back to the early 1970s. I struggle with the fact that we have people willing to challenge this legislation. I respect that, as I said before, but the simple fact is that this is an improvement: it is an improvement regarding land access and it is an improvement regarding the time for people to be allowed to communicate, whether it is the mining company or the farmer. There is a whole range of improvements, and a whole range of improvements will come over time with the second and third phases of legislative change in relation to access to our minerals in this state.

I think the very important thing we must remember here is that the Crown owns the minerals. I speak as a fifth-generation farmer, if anyone has any doubts. My family came out here in 1840 and farmed at Plympton. What happened there? Urban encroachment. They went out to Angle Vale. In 1939, my grandfather lost a patch for the weapons dumps through compulsory acquisition. In 1950, he lost some more land to the Edinburgh RAAF Base.

When my father moved to Coomandook, I think he thought he had probably seen all the compulsory acquisition for a little while. In the early 1970s, they decided to move the Dukes Highway and we had 7½ acres, in the old language, bought off us, but we were well compensated: it was about 2½ times the value and had some new fencing. That is not directly part of access arrangements under the Mining Act, but we have certainly been impacted. Certainly, the urban encroachment I believe has had 1,000 times more impact on farmland in this state than mining has; in fact, mining is said to cover no more land than the footprint of the hotel car parks in this state.

A lot of misinformation gets out there, and I have heard stories that whole tracts of land will be mined. A very good friend of mine, a knowledgeable man—I will not identify him—said, 'They will dig up the whole of Yorke Peninsula.' I said, 'It just won't happen. It's just not feasible on a range of levels.' They are struggling even to get their money to dig the hillside. The mining company own that land, and the chance of a second mine at that level in a hundred years is extremely minimal. There is also a real issue with people who think that they can just block the Crown out.

Like many farmers' sons, I come from a background of needing the opportunity to head off to work in the industry. Another brother came home, but I worked in the Cooper Basin for two years earthmoving on Caterpillar equipment, mainly scrapers: a 639D twin power and a 623B single power. We were building leases for oil rigs, airstrips and roads. It was a great job and a great way to introduce life in the desert to a 19 year old.

A year later, I worked for Gerhardt Australia and was involved in fracturing oil wells and wireline testing. I say that because some people seem to think that it is okay to mine up north of the Goyder line but nowhere south of that. The water resources in the north, the Artesian Basin, are very precious. We had the practice of not only low-volume fracking for oil and gas up there but unconventional fracturing is happening now and station owners can still access untarnished water. I put that out there by way of background.

I want to talk about the mines, and I call them the suburban mines, either in my electorate or they have been in my electorate. The Mindarie mine was foreshadowed in the early 2000s. The Mallee farmers were having a lot of trouble, but they could not seem to get any other farmers across the state to back them and lobby for them to work out access issues and so on—and there certainly were issues. Before I was elected, farmers dragged me out of a tent at the Karoonda Farm Fair and said, 'You're going to be the next member for Hammond.' I said, 'You're very positive; thanks for that.' Next, there was strong dialogue, and I still have great dialogues with those same people today. That started with Australian Zircon sand mining for zircon, and down the track Murray Zircon came in. That is not to say that there were not some issues.

When there were issues, I was very proactive working with the minister at the time, the Hon. Paul Holloway in the other place, and I must commend him. I have relayed this story in here before: a week before the 2006 election when I came into this place, he invited me to the turning of the sod for the Australian Zircon mine. I have never forgotten that and wrote him a letter when he left acknowledging the interaction we had from those very early days. It is interesting to acknowledge that he obviously thought that I was going to get elected as the member for Hammond. Well, he was right, so that is a good thing.

When Murray Zircon came on board, one of the first things they did as part of that $40 million injection in Chinese investment was to make sure that the rehabilitation was right, and that is exactly what they had to do under regulation. I was a member of the Mindarie Community Consultative Committee, having worked with them before I was even elected as a candidate. It was the same deal with the Strathalbyn Terramin mine: I worked with that community before the election in 2006. Having a mine within a kilometre of the town engendered strong debate, and I remember the town hall meetings with 300 people present. But we made it work.

For many years, they were very successful in mining lead and silver out of that mine. They have actually mined under the Strathalbyn-Callington Road, but they had to leave enough ore body upstairs, obviously, to make sure the road did not collapse. I did manage to venture underground a couple of times, and I vow and declare I will never be an underground miner but it was good to go down and have a look.

Occasionally there are issues. People did not like the lighting, so I again worked with the minister of the day, the Hon. Paul Holloway, to put in shading so that the lights operated appropriately. Some people think that these miners just act and do whatever they can, but there is dust monitoring, noise monitoring and thousands and thousands of pages of environmental work they have to do. It is amazing.

I have heard the commentary today about mining near vineyards—well, guess what? At Strathalbyn, that is exactly what they were doing, mining near those iconic Langhorne Creek vineyards. The issue there was that the Langhorne Creek winemakers made a decision not to make a big deal about it; they said, 'We can work side by side. We'll deal with this.' They did it, and they did it very successfully. We had dryland farming, we had vineyards and we had mining working side by side. In fact, when there was some dewatering that needed to be done it was used for watering vineyards. It was mining and agriculture working together.

That can happen, and quite frankly I get a bit sick of the conversations that say they cannot work together. It has been proved they can; I have seen how it works. I am still on the Strathalbyn Community Consultative Committee in the member for Heysen's electorate—just because I have history, I guess; I just stay there without trying to encroach on his patch. That mine is in abeyance at the moment, and they are looking at the Bird in Hand project in the member for Kavel's electorate. I acknowledge that is in the middle of vineyards. I have been out there and looked at the program, opening up an old mine.

The gold gets better the deeper they go, and they do not even know how good the gold is yet. If they get down deep enough and keep drilling, it will get better and, from what I can see, there will be minimum impact. There will be a bit of a mound at the surface, there will be an incline at the top and there might be a dozen trucks a day accessing the area if it does get approval. It has to go through all the approval processes, and I am well aware of the work they are doing in regard to working through those processes. I note the member for Kavel's interaction there with his community, and I note the community's interaction with the mine, but we just have to be realistic.

With Callington and Kanmantoo coming into the seat of Hammond, we have the Hillgrove mine there at Kanmantoo, which is quite a big open-cut mine. I recently went on a trip there with Brand SA, and we had people from across the board, people who had nothing to do with mining, who had very fixed views. One of those people—I think he was from CMI Toyota—when we were looking at the environmental offsets that mine was doing above and beyond their regulated role, said, 'I have absolutely turned my mind around on how I view mining in South Australia.' That is very close to what he said, almost word for word.

They were planting trees and doing those environmental offsets to get the right outcome. Yes, it is an open-pit mine and guess what? You will end up with an open hole. There is talk that it might be used to pump hydro if it stacks up, and there is also talk that they are looking at tunnelling underneath to grab those other reserves of copper there at Kanmantoo. Certainly I am working with the Kanmantoo Callington Community Consultative Committee as well to make sure we get the right outcomes.

The local pub at Callington has been shut down for a while for various reasons, but a community centre is going in there and they have been successful in getting some grant funding. Guess what? Hillgrove are putting a substantial contribution to that community centre as well. That is not to say there have not been people with different views from those of the mine owners, but they have got on that community consultative committee and worked through the process—just as I have seen at Mindarie and just as I have seen at the Strathalbyn.

In fact, one of the farmers with exempt land and allowing exempt access to one of these mines that is in abeyance at the moment now gets paid a cheque every year. I remember my last correspondence to the former minister, the now shadow minister, was asking, 'Where’s his money?' So the cycle can turn around. There is also the silver mine right here in the city, next to a house at the bottom of Glen Osmond. I do not know if you can go down it anymore, but I went down it years ago and had a look around. I want to reflect on land use. People say that we would not dig up Rundle Mall or the Botanic Garden.

Mr McBride: You would!

Mr PEDERICK: I will leave that. Some of the best land in the state—and I do not want to offend the good people of Yorke Peninsula—would be under this building on the edge of the Torrens. We are not going to start bulldozing Parliament House because we cannot farm it. It is the same argument. Some of the best land would be along the banks of the River Torrens, as it was farmed all those years ago.

I want to reflect on some of our history and talk about some of the mining in our area and the Copper Coast. It is obviously recognised as a region of this state, situated in the northern Yorke Peninsula and comprising the towns of Wallaroo, Kadina, Moonta, Paskeville and Port Hughes. The area approximately bounded by Wallaroo, Kadina and Moonta is also known as a the Copper Triangle. The area is so named because copper was mined there in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a significant source of economic prosperity for South Australia at the time. These three towns are known for their large Cornish ethnicity and often called Little Cornwall. Kernewek Lowender is the world's largest Cornish festival and held biennially in the Cornish Triangle.

I would like to give a little bit of history about the area becoming established as a source of copper. In 1861, Paddy Ryan found copper traces coming out of a wombat's burrow on a pastoral lease granted to Walter Watson Hughes. Hughes formed the Tipara mining company, which later became the Moonta Mining Company, and by the late 1800s Moonta had the largest urban population outside Adelaide, with 12,000 people, including many Cornish miners and their families, who brought with them their skills and lifestyle. Much of the character of this period was captured by local cartoonist Oswald Pryor (1881-1971), the son of a Cornish miner.

I want to reflect on Kernewek Lowender, the Copper Coast Cornish Festival, and give some commentary about the 2019 festival dates. The Kernewek Lowender Copper Coast Cornish Festival is held on the Copper Coast in regional South Australia, in the coastal towns of Wallaroo, Moonta and Kadina. The region is full of Cornish buzz during the festival week, and the local community welcomes approximately 45,000 people, who join in on the festivities and celebrate the area's Cornish heritage. There we go: mining has backed in not just this state but obviously the Yorke Peninsula.

We have made so much in this state from mining and agriculture, and I note that we can work side by side with both industries—many people from the agricultural sector have benefited from the mining industry—and we must keep going. Yes, we do have to get the balance right, but the issue for me is—and I am not sure how much consultation we need; we could consult forever—I do not think it would make some people happy and especially with some of the words I have heard in this place today. My fear is that if people want to invoke veto, with no rights to minerals that are obviously the property of the Crown, what do we do then? Do we invoke compulsory acquisition? That is not what I am advocating. The point that I am making is: how do you manage it when it is owned by the Crown? The point I am making is: be careful what you wish for.

We need to work through this. This is an improvement on the current legislation. We need to keep moving forward. I acknowledge the work that Premier Steven Marshall and minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan are doing in working through this process. I acknowledge the robust debate in our house and I acknowledge people's choice—and I absolutely respect it. But we must work hard so that we have a vibrant economy that relies on both mining and agriculture.