Results of auction to save the Hunter River

Monday, 15 May, 2006

An auction of salinity credits held in Maitland as part of an innovative scheme to improve the health of the Hunter River has had excellent results according to the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC).

DEC Director General, Lisa Corbyn said all 200 credits, which were made available at the auction, were sold to 11 bidders which included nine mines and two power stations.

"These credits enable companies to include saline discharges to the Hunter River as part of their operations, but only in a way that ensures that the Hunter River is not polluted," Corbyn said.

This is the second auction held as part of the Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme and its success follows on from the inaugural auction held in 2004 where 200 credits were distributed between eight companies (nine facilities) at an average of $507 per credit.

At the 2006 auction the highest price paid for a credit was $658, while the lowest price paid was $532. The average price paid was $564 per credit.

The proceeds from the auction, which amounted to $112,770 are used to fund the cost of running the scheme, including an extensive network of river monitoring gauges.

Corbyn said the trading scheme is an expansion of a pilot scheme which has been running since 1995 and has successfully reduced salt levels.

"In the past the river has experienced salinity peaks that have had the potential to damage crops and made the river unfit for irrigation use.

"We have worked with mining companies, power stations and irrigators to design a scheme that allows everyone to share the use of the river.

"Now the river, which drains the largest coastal catchment in NSW covering 22,000 square kilometres, is less salty than an average bottle of mineral water.

"In the long term, the scheme provides a powerful incentive for companies to find alternatives to river discharge," Corbyn said.

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