The Queensland parliament has passed laws that protect the state’s best farmland from mining.
The legislation, the first of its kind in Australia, was passed on Thursday.
The Strategic Cropping Land Act 2011 will ban mines that make the land unusable for farming.
The laws are expected to come into force on January 30, 2012.
Queensland Natural Resources Minister Rachel Nolan says the laws support mining in the right places and ensure the best farming land is protected for future generations.
“The resources sector is growing in Queensland, and the laws passed today show our government’s commitment to sustainable growth,” Ms Nolan said in a statement.
Ms Nolan said the government had worked closely with representatives from the agriculture, resources and urban development sectors, and local government and natural resources management groups to get the balance right.
She said Queensland’s top soil scientists assessed 128 samples from five land zones to develop the legislation’s criteria.
All new developments within protection and management zones will be assessed under the new laws.
But Queensland’s minerals and energy peak body said the laws fail in their intent because they are underpinned by flawed science.
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) said the soil criteria, according to the expert advice available to the council, failed to differentiate strategic cropping land from other cropping land.
“This pioneering legislation needed to be underpinned by the best available science if it was going to win the support of the Queensland resource sector,” QRC chief executive Michael Roche said in a statement.
Mr Roche said the resources sector was also disappointed the parliamentary committee that reviewed the legislation was given only a few weeks to take submissions and consider recommendations.
He argued that this meant protections for some projects may be at risk.