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Young farmers stand in a cotton field holding up small signs spelling out '#WrongMineWrongPlace'
Shenhua’s proposal has long been battled by farming groups and environmentalists.
The ABC understands the New South Wales Government has confirmed Shenhua Energy has met a deadline to apply for a mining lease on the Liverpool Plains.

The company plans to extract about 10 million tonnes of coal from an open-cut mine.

“We have received the application, they had to do that by June 30, and that has occurred and now we’ll look at it,” Deputy Premier John Barilaro said.

Opponents fear the mine will destroy prime agricultural land, groundwater and Aboriginal artefacts if approved.

“There’s certain criteria that they had to have met by June 30. We need to assess that, at the moment, and we’ll look at that,” Mr Barilaro said.

“But at the end of the day, if they’ve met all their initial criteria then they’re entitled to continue on with this process.”

Former federal agriculture minister and New England MP Barnaby Joyce says he’s still not convinced of the merits of the mine.

It comes as a NSW parliamentary inquiry into koalas recommends that the State Government ensures the protection of a koala colony and habitat before allowing any further development at the Shenhua Watermark mine site.

No surprises, community to continue fight

While it was pushing the deadline to apply in the final days, no-one has been surprised by Shenhua’s latest renewal application.

“If they didn’t put in a new application they would be forfeiting their licence,” NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said.

But Minister Marshall has urged action one way or another, sooner rather than later.

“They’ve had the best part of a decade now to start work and haven’t, and I just ask how long is that piece of string?”

“Licence applications and pieces of paper don’t represent jobs, don’t represent pay checks in the local community.

“One has to wonder, are they ever going to do anything or are they just going to continue to string people along?”

Meanwhile, local opponents have been left disappointed by the news, but say they will not give up their fight.

Traditional descendent Mitchum Neaves said the project would have a devastating impact of Aboriginal artefacts if it goes ahead.

“We are connected to the country, and that’s everything,” Mr Neaves said.

“My ancestors’ sacred sites are very important to us people.

Water plans to come

Caroona Coal Action Group Chair Susan Lyle remained optimistic, and said the project still had some hurdles to clear.

“The federal water management plans have not been lodged, as far as we’re concerned, and until such time as they go to the Federal Government and then are referred to the IESC and then come back to the minister for approval, not a sod can be turned.

Ms Lyle said she hoped there was considered deliberations, after Minister Barilaro released a new statewide mining map last week.

“There is to be no more coal mines in this area, and yet they’ve left this handkerchief size in the middle of a very major food bowl and the whole thing, in my opinion is absolutely ridiculous.

Shenhua has been approached for comment.