Cattlemen in the Northern Territory have called on their government to legislate to give them more bargaining power when dealing with mining companies.
The Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association (NTCA) passed a motion at their AGM in Darwin last Thursday to lobby for changes, like those recently adopted in Queensland, that would make it mandatory for petroleum and mining companies to negotiate access agreements with pastoral landholders prior to any activity.
NTCA executive officer Tracey Hayes said the motion was unanimously supported by all of the association’s sub branches, which expressed the extreme concern beef producers have about the lack of protection from mining projects that could affect their existing operations.
Hayes also said that the NTCA is not anti-mining, but simply wanted to ensure that the rights of beef producers would be recognised through negotiations with mining companies.
“We are urging the government to look at this situation as a matter of urgency and in the interests of a vibrant Northern Territory pastoral, mining and petroleum sector,” she said.
“The NT government needs to encourage companies to come to the table with landholders and agree on some basic access conditions. It is just good manners and makes good sense.”
“We have seen what is happening in some circumstances across south-east Queensland and NSW where there is significant conflict between primary producers and petroleum companies," she said.
“We have our own cases here in the NT where things are not working well and this makes it harder for others who are doing the right thing.
“Around Alice Springs hundreds of square kilometres of our best pastoral land is affected. That land could end up being worthless because there are few protections in place.
“In the NT, all pastoral properties have some sort of mining exploration tenement – and some have several.”
NTCA president David Warriner told Fairfax Agricultural Media that the motion would give NTCA members a platform “to minimise the damage they (mining companies) might do”, but also to ensure cattlemen would not miss out on financial benefits from allowing miners on their land.
“My vision of where this should go is that NT cattlemen have the potential to be able to make some money out of mining as well as beef,” he said.
“This is similar to cattlemen in the US who run their cattle businesses at a loss but still remain profitable from the oil they pump out of their properties.”