NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Mining in the catchment

In February 2018, the NSW Government established the Independent Expert Panel for Mining in the Catchment. The panel provides expert advice to the department on the impact of mining activities in the Greater Sydney Water Catchment Special Areas, with a focus on risks to the quantity of water in the catchment.

The panel submitted a final report in October 2019. This provided 50 recommendations to improve the management of mining impacts on the special areas of the catchment, including the need to:

  • establish a new independent expert panel to provide advice on future mining applications
  • adopt a precautionary approach and prevent surface to seam fracturing through appropriate mine design, such as narrower longwall panels
  • create an interagency taskforce to more clearly identify mining-related water losses and establish acceptable thresholds
  • adopt more objective performance measures that can more precisely control cumulative impacts and inform adaptive management
  • consider compensatory offsets for mining-related water losses
  • require independent peer reviews of modelling (both groundwater and surface water) as part of the assessment process
  • conduct a study to inform mine closure planning and long-term impacts on water resources
  • improve management and access to environmental data to inform assessments and improve transparency
  • improve monitoring of water flows and water quality by the mining companies and WaterNSW (potentially funded by mining companies)
  • ensure mining companies hold sufficient water licences for all water losses, and
  • conduct further research into swamps and regional movement of bedding planes.

In March 2020, the NSW Government adopted all 50 recommendations and established an interagency taskforce to implement an action plan.

These actions will improve the department’s existing assessment and monitoring of underground coal mining. They will also provide certainty for Sydney’s water supply and thousands of jobs across NSW, including approximately 5000 workers in the Illawarra.

Key actions to date include the establishment of an inter-agency taskforce, a new independent expert panel, and principles for offsetting mining related surface water.

View the Mining in the catchment action plan (PDF, 105 KB) which shows the status of all the actions being implemented by the inter-agency taskforce.

Page last updated: 18/01/2023