NSW has the largest economy in Australia valued at over half a trillion dollars in 2016-17 or about 33% of Australia's GDP. The NSW mining industry is a very significant component of NSW GDP and spends approximately $11 billion per annum of which nearly half of this is contributed to the Hunter Region economy. With such concentrated coal mine development comes not only the demand for large quantities of water for operational uses but also potential for catchment scale changes in water flow and water quality. Large scale land use changes impact on water dependent assets including both registered water users and water dependent ecosystems. In addition, a number of these mining induced impact changes will not be realized for many decades post mining due to long recovery times in groundwater levels.
The mining industry continues to grow and has a social and legal responsibility to limit impacts in line with the ‘Objects’ and ‘Principles’ of the Water Management Act 2000. This abstract explores the role of the NSW Government in managing water impacts. It includes the process of defining acceptable limits of change and the regulations permitting certain trade-offs for the broader economic benefit of NSW. An overview of shifting trends in registered use of water driven from the introduction of NSW Water Sharing Plans and the implementation of a water trading market is presented, concluding with where new policy is needed to facilitate challenging legal compliance issues unique to the mining industry and the NSW Government commitment to independent monitoring.