Broken Hill, one of the oldest and most successful mining towns in Australia, has finally been declared to be eligible for Resources for Regions funding.
The NSW Resources for Regions program has also been extended to include the mining communities of Cessnock and Maitland.
At present there are 11 local council areas that are eligible to apply for funding from the allocated pool of $160 million.
Deputy premier Andrew Stoner made the announcement in parliament yesterday, stating that changes to the eligibility criteria for funding applications had been made to include three new regions.
“In this round, in addition to the eight local government areas, Broken Hill is being recognised for the magnificent contribution of the people of the far west, as are Cessnock and Maitland,” Stoner said.
“In its first four years in office this government has met its commitment of contributing at least $160 million of funding towards infrastructure for mining-affected communities.
Stoner said that the NSW Government has spent $9.5 million on upgrades to the Ulan Road near Mudgee; $3.5 million on the redevelopment of Black Bridge in Lithgow; $4 million on the Upper Hunter Tertiary Education Centre; and $12.3 million on the Narrabri water supply augmentation project.
NSW Minerals Council (NSWMC) CEO Stephen Galilee said that the expansion was a step in the right direction, but expressed his dismay that other key mining communities were still not part of the funding program.
“Whilst today’s announcement is very welcome, it is disappointing that some key NSW mining communities still remain ineligible for the program,” he said.
“The NSW Minerals Council will continue to advocate for the further expansion of Resources for Regions to include more mining-related communities.”
The NSWMC has recommended to the state government that council regions should be considered eligible to apply for funding if they have 1000 or more mining employees, or if mining accounts for at least 20 per cent of employment in the area.
“Expanding eligibility and funding for Resources for Regions in this way would help mining communities get a fair return for the economic windfall they deliver for NSW,” Galilee said.
Galilee also said that he hoped next month’s state budget would significantly increase funding for the Resources for Regions program in order to ensure its long term future.
“In NSW the vast majority of our workforce live and raise families in the communities near where mining takes place,” he said.
“It’s therefore very appropriate that resources are invested back into these communities to support our mining families.”