The NSW government has extended a coal exploration licence for Chinese-owned miner Shenhua in the state’s north.

Resources Minister Don Harwin on Thursday said the government had renewed Shenhua’s exploration licence but hadn’t provided approval to commence mining.

However, the move sparked outrage from the state’s opposition, farmers and conservationists.

Opposition resources spokesman Adam Searle on Thursday criticised the government’s move to renew the exploration licence, describing it as ‘irresponsible’.

‘The minister cannot be trusted when he says the NSW government will not release other parts of the Liverpool Plains for exploration,’ Mr Searle said in a statement.