The government has been accused of misleading the public after backflipping on a promise to provide a map showing what areas of the Shenhua mine are under negotiation.
The NSW government is currently negotiating with the Chinese company to reduce the size of the coal mine to the ridges of the Liverpool Plains, which it says will protect the fertile black soil – however there are fears the region's water table will still be impacted.
During the recent NSW Budget estimates, a parliamentary committee asked the government for a map of the Shenhua mine “showing the contested area, or the area that is the subject of negotiations”.
Department of Industry secretary Simon Smith replied: “We can provide a map that shows the entire area of the exploration licence and also the area that is not the subject of negotiation”, and took the question on notice.
However, rather than supplying the map, the government simply pointed to the mine's 2013 Environmental Impact Statement report.
“The project details including a map of the Exploration Licence and the approved mine development area can be found on the Department of Planning and Environment website,” the response said.
Shadow Resource Minister Adam Searle and Greens mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham, who both sit on the parliamentary committee, said the response was not acceptable.
“At best they've misled and at worse they've lied,” Mr Buckingham said.
“It's about transparency and accountability, which is completely lacking at the moment.”
Mr Searle said the government gave “every impression” it was going to be straight with the parliament and the community.
Resource Minister Anthony Roberts confirmed negotiations had commenced.
“The negotiations are around securing the excise of the parts of Shenhua’s mining title that encroach onto the strategic agricultural land of the Liverpool Plains,” he said.
The Leader contacted Shenhua Watermark for a comment regarding the negoitations, but the company declined to provide one.