NSW Mining ads removed for overstating positive environmental impact

Ashley Regan
By Ashley Regan | 18 March 2024
Credit: Michal Pech via Unsplash

A YouTube ad and several web pages by industry body NSW Mining have been removed for overstating the positive environmental impact of the business, when the activities undertaken are required by law.

The content was found to breach the AANA Environmental Code after two complaints were submitted to Ad Standards by a spokesperson for an indigenous elder of the Plains Clan of the Wonnarua People. 

Both the YouTube ad and company's web pages made statements such as: (a) “We’re responsibly mining the minerals, metals and coal for today and tomorrow” (b) “Mining Sustainably”.

(c) "There are teams like us all over NSW, restoring the land being used for mining. We make plans before mining even starts, so there's a productive and sustainable use for the land afterwards as well. Like this bushland and farmland for cattle grazing. And it's happening all the time. Like here in the Hunter Valley where 40% of the land used for mining is already under rehabilitation. Because in NSW we mine responsibly. For today and tomorrow."

NSW Minerals Council

The complaint highlights that the advertisement is misleading.

"Contrary to what a reasonable consumer may expect the Restoration Efforts Claim to mean, NSW Mining and/or NSW Mining’s members’ mine restoration activities are legally required under their licences and approvals," the spokesperson for the indigenous elder said.

"NSW Mining emphasises positive activities it and/or its members have undertaken, without providing any information regarding the detrimental impacts of the activities of its members particularly relating to climate change.

"Moreover, rehabilitation of mine sites is only necessary due to the severe degradation caused by mining activities. The rehabilitation undertaken by mining companies may improve the land from its post-mining state but does not undo the harm caused by the mining."

In response the NSW Mining rejects these assertions.

"Nowhere in the advertisement is it stated that mining is a sustainable practice in general. The expressions very clearly state NSW Mining’s intentions to mine responsibly, and investigate ways in which mining can be undertaken more safely and sustainably in future," NSW Mining said.

However, the Ad Standards Panel considered that most members of the public would not know that such practices are required by law and since the advertiser failed to share this information, the ad is creating a misleading impression that the restoration and rehabilitation efforts were solely the initiative of the advertiser's members, suggesting that they were exceeding their obligatory duties.

As a result the advertisement breached Sections 1/Truthful and Factual and 2/Genuine Environmental Benefit of the Environmental Code. The YouTube ad has been removed and the website has been updated with additional information to make it clear that mining rehabilitation is regulated and required by law.

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