A top-level advisory group is being put together to use Hunter coal royalties for the region’s rejuvenation.
The state government will set aside at least $25 million each year from mining royalties to support coal mining communities in NSW through the royalties for rejuvenation fund.
The government said the funding would ensure that coal mining communities could make targeted investments towards strategic planning, workforce development programs, constructing enabling infrastructure and establishing new industries and employment opportunities.
During October, the government is expected to announce the members of a new Hunter regional expert panel to guide the distribution of funds. Applications for positions on the panel closed in early September.
The regional expert panel will be responsible for providing advice and recommendations to the deputy premier on applications received through the fund. This, the government said, would ensure decision-making is aligned with the needs of the local area.
The recruitment process targeted candidates with a diverse range of skills, gender, expertise, backgrounds and experiences.
The Hunter panel will consist of between five and 10 members, including a chairperson and deputy chairperson. The members and chairpersons will be appointed by the deputy premier, while the deputy chairpersons will be appointed by the regional expert panel members.
Deputy secretary for regional development and programs Chris Hanger said an interim Hunter expert panel had been providing early input this year into the direction the fund should go in.
He said the members of the permanent panel would include a range of representatives from local councils, relevant industry groups, community groups and the local Aboriginal community.
“Locals know what their communities need, and the regional Expert Panels will play an important role in helping to direct the right level of investment into the right sectors to strengthen regional economies for the medium to long-term future,” he said.
The government said the coal mining industry played an important role in the workforce and economy of NSW, producing around 80 per cent of the state’s electricity supply and supporting more than 100,000 direct and indirect jobs.
While the industry would continue to be a critical part of energy production and employment in NSW for years to come, the royalties for rejuvenation fund would ensure coal mining communities had the support they need to plan for the future and to diversify their economies.