Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is cheering over the possibility the controversial Shenhua coal mine may not go ahead.
One of the biggest issues of the election for the New England electorate is probably dead, Barnaby Joyce says.
The deputy prime minister is cheering over the possibility the controversial Shenhua coal mine may not go ahead.
Doubts have been cast over the future of the project near the NSW regional town of Gunnedah after the Chinese operator indicated plunging demand for coal this year due to low prices and market oversupply.
Mr Joyce, who faces a tough political campaign for his seat over the issue, said he had been aware of the project's uncertain future "in the background" for a while.
"You don't have to be Pythagoras to work that one out, because the prices are way below the cost of production," he told AAP in the NSW regional town of Scone on Tuesday.
"It's something that advances the process of stopping the mine, which I've always wanted to do."
The agriculture minister faced several questions over the proposed mine from locals angry about the project's potential impact on groundwater as he campaigned in his seat of New England on Tuesday.
There is also fresh pressure over the issue from political rival former independent MP Tony Windsor, who's running for his old seat.
Mr Joyce is happy Mr Windsor could be denied that attack line.
"One of the big issues of the election is probably dead."
The Greens candidate for New England Mercurius Goldstein said it proved Mr Joyce has been ineffective in his attempts to stop the mine.
"The mine is completely out of his hands and in the end it's proven the decision will be made by bankers and not a democratically elected minister," he told AAP.