Ø New South Wales, Australia, Impact of open-cut mine on agriculture
The Shenhua Watermark Coal Project, invested by China Shenhua, was granted the development consent by New South Wales Government and approval decision by the Department of Environment of Australian government in 2015. The above-mentioned approvals were the most important ones for a mine development in Australia.
Ever since the dispute occurred regarding the land use by Watermark Project, China Shenhua has been making efforts to reduce or eliminate the negative impact on the local land use and ESG of China Shenhua. By 20th April, 2021, China Shenhua has withdrawn the open-cut coal mine project in NSW and stopped all exploration activities in that region.
Since the commencement of the project, China Shenhua has always been in compliance with relevant polices, law and regulations where it operated. To keep with the development trend of transitioning to clean energy and low carbon while satisfying the environmental protection need and planninng adjustment of New South Wales government, China Shenhua proposed to withdraw the project after consultation with the government and taking the interests of multiple parties, including the community, the company and the government, into consideration.
On 21st April, 2021, New South Wales government and China Shenhua Energy Company Limited (Shenhua) reached an agreement. Shenhua has already withdrawn the application for a mining permit and surrendered the development right of the watermark project. On top of that, in order to increase the land utilization, Watermark coal company transferred ecological land for non-agriculture uses of more than 6,000 hectares to New South Wales Local Land Services.
During the development phase of the watermark project, China Shenhua always honestly kept its long term commitments in ecological protection, and strictly complied the rather complicated environment approval procedures of both Federal and state governments. China Shenhua has been disclosing information regarding the project environment management in its company website, thus to ensure the compliance of the project and right to know of the public. For example, the company engaged external experts to make the Koala Plan of Management approved in a fast manner. With the help of engaged public relations specialists, the project team properly responded to the concerns raised by the media and community, and clarified untruthful blames, through means such as hot line.
On top of this, on 28th April, 2015, China Shenhua successfully defended itself in a legal challenge raised by an anti-coal organization, Upper Mooki Landcare Inc., who claimed that inadequate consideration was given to the protection of Koalas and its biological environment by NSW government is its granting approval to environment impact statement of watermark project.
Ø Gomeroi, Australia-impact of planned thermal coal project on water and cultural heritage
After the establishment of Shenhua Watermark Coal Company, Shenhua Australia Holdings Pty, which is a branch company of China Shenhua, proposed appropriate protection and relocation measures for aboriginal heritages including grooving stones and scared trees, pursuant to the environment approvals of Federal and State governments. The comprehensive Heritage Management Plan was officially approved by NSW government in March 2020. During the process of compiling the Heritage Management Plan, we extensively listened to the feedback and comments from the local aboriginal groups, and gained recognition and support from the majority of the aboriginal people.
During the preparation and development of the project, the company has always been actively communicating with the local communities and aboriginal people. For many years, anti-mining and anti-coal groups have been opposing all developments of mining projects, including watermark coal project, through all kinds of means. This made China Shenhua been involved in the disputes of Gomeroi. But in the legal challenges launched by aboriginal groups, they only constantly claimed that coal mining will cause damage to the cultural heritages and spiritual inheriting, without finding any substantial flaws in our heritage protection proposal. That was the reason why they failed the legal challenges. In fact, according to the on-site investigations, governments of all levels and the majority of local residents have been supportive to the development of the watermark project. China Shenhua has continuously provided aids, in the form of finance and community development, to local communities and aboriginal people, and publicly disclosed details on regular basis through the release of CSR reports.