Proposed amendments to guidelines for the assessment of key mining projects in New South Wales strongly favour economic priorities over environmental concerns, in a move which many say is a response to the scuppering of a Rio Tinto project in the Hunter Valley by concerned local residents.

The draft planning policy issued by state resources minister Chris Hartcher makes the economic impact of prospective mining projects the “principal consideration” during assessment. The policy, which will be available for public consultation until August 12, includes provisions requiring that the authority responsible for assessment and consent give consideration to…