The Labor government has promised to pay royalties to farmers who have new mineral deposits discovered and developed on their land if re-elected next month.
The ‘Royalty Return’ program would provide freehold and perpetual leaseholders who have a mining lease granted on their land a 10 per cent share of any royalties generated by the mine.
This would work in the same way as the program announced in March 2017 for new oil and gas discoveries made.
The South Australian Labor Party has said it would create a new income stream for farmers, while also allowing local communities to share in the economic benefit of new mining developments.
Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said jobs were the state government’s main priority and they had been working hard to develop new mining projects in regional South Australia.
“Mining and farming are both critical drivers of the South Australian economy and must be able to flourish together if we are going to support jobs growth in these sectors into the future,” he said.
“This new royalty sharing program will support the growth of our mineral resources sector while creating valuable new income streams for South Australian farmers.
“We are also backing our farmers and other food industry businesses through tax reform and investing in job creation through out Future Jobs Fund.”
Liberal candidate for Flinders Peter Treloar said he was not sure if the idea was feasible.
“The Liberal Party is not convinced that Labor’s royalty return proposal would actually work in practice, as many mining companies purchase farms, so you could have a situation where very few farmers receive a return under Labor’s proposal,” he said.
“We would like to see more details on how the proposal would work.
“There could be instances where farmers work with miners on developing drilling on parts of a working farm, but in the case of open cut mines, the mining companies often purchase the land which would negate the need for the policy proposed by Labor.”
He said Labor’s plan to give royalties to the property owner, which could be the mining company, did not help neighbours who were adversely affected.
Australian Conservatives MP Robert Brokenshire said he had been arguing in favour of “royalties for regions” for nine years, and that he wanted a higher rate of return to communities – 35 per cent.
SA Best Legislative Council candidate Sam Johnson said the party would ask the next government to set aside 25 per cent of mining royalties for “new economic and social infrastructure” in country areas.
The Greens propose prioritising farming over mining, ensuring mining companies pay adequate royalties, and establishing a state future fund.