The Nymboida area.
The Nymboida area. Tim Howard

Cancellation of mining lease case of bureaucratic overkill

A STATE Government department's cancellation of a mining lease at Nymboida is a case of bureaucratic overkill, says the man charged with winding up operations.

South Grafton businessman Rod Masen said the NSW Department of Planning and Environment's decision to cancel the lease of the mine at the Nymboida Claypit on January 25 was totally unnecessary.

"We wanted to cancel the lease ourselves, but once the Mines Department got wind of that , they jumped all over us,” Mr Masen said.

He said the mining operation was owned by his father, Noel Masen, but he had managed it in recent years due to his dad's declining health.

The family took on the mining lease in 1978 and supplied the South Grafton Brickworks with the shale used in the iconic white bricks used to build many homes in the region.

"The brickworks is all knocked down now,” he said. "We haven't mined anything from there for three years or more.”

The department's oversight body, the Resource Regulator, claimed the mine had committed 16 breaches of its compliance obligations.

Its chief compliance officer, Anthony Keon, said 16 grounds for cancellation of the mining lease were found during an ongoing investigation.

"Attempts to have the titleholder comply with simple regulations over a reasonable period of time were unsuccessful and as a result we have cancelled their authority to mine,” Mr Keon said.

"The breaches range from failing to provide a mining operations plan, produce an annual environmental management report and rehabilitate the site. Of even more significance, there were occasions where the titleholder illegally mined outside of the mining lease boundary and ignored a statutory direction.”

Mr Masen disputed the regulator's charges.

"The investigation began in about March last year,” he said. "I was interviewed at length in March or April last year about it.”

He said the site was basically cleared land.

"We've been rehabilitating the site as we have mined it,” he said. "There's only a small section, about the size of three house blocks, which needs to be done now.

"There's a $30,000 refundable bond lodged with the government which we would lose if we don't rehabilitate the site.

"Plans are being drawn up to finish the rehabiliation.”

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