Senior representatives from three state government departments will meet in Muswellbrook next month to discuss how to overhaul the state's planning laws to provide greater flexibility for post-mining land uses.
Upper Hunter MP Dave Layzell organised the two-day summit with the Department of Planning, Regional NSW, the NSW Mining Regulator and Upper Hunter council following the announcement that BHP's Mt Arthur mine will close in 2030.
BHP is presently involved in an extensive consultation process on how to best rehabilitate the 6600 hectare Mt Arthur mine site.
The announcement also highlighted the need to change existing planning laws which presently prevent buffer lands from being developed for up to 25 years after a mine closes.
The current planning restrictions have already resulted in two manufacturing companies that were considering establishing their operations in the Upper Hunter moving to the state's central west instead.
"There's another couple bashing on the door this week, saying, 'if you get this legislation changed so that this land can be rezoned to industrial we will come'," Mr Layzell said.
"They are just asking for power and water to the gate and they will do the rest.
"This process is about giving the power to councils to rezone the land. That's essential because councils still have to have that sort of local control over their area, but there also needs to be certainty for business so they know they are not going to get bogged down in local politics."
Another focus of the summit will be the Muswellbrook Coal site, which is due to cease operations this year.
The mine's owner Idemitsu and AGL are presently conducting a feasibility study into the establishment of a pumped hydro project at the site.
"This is about finding a pathway to get them to that position as fast as possible. If they want to invest the money, how can we help them do that around the planning legislation?," Mr Layzell said.
"We're not telling them what they need to do because private industry will decide what that is and businesses will decide who wants to come here but we need to make sure that we've got the ability to change the zoning of land to allow new industry to be put where there is currently a mining lease."
The NSW Minerals Council has also expressed its support for changes to restrictive planning arrangements relating to consents and post-mining land use.
"Such changes should enable mining operations to amend their existing post-mining approval conditions in response to community needs so local mining communities receive the best possible outcomes once mines reach the end of their operating lives," Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee said.