The Morrison government has announced a $ 175 million loan to build a large new metallurgical coal mine in the city center. QueenslandEnvironmentalists have branded the move as “highly irresponsible.”
Climate campaigners said the loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (Naif) to develop the $ 900 million Olive Downs mine in the Bowen Basin was a “bad idea.” They argued that the Pembroke Resources project would increase global carbon emissions by contributing to dirty steel production and would not need public support if it was financially viable.
Federal Resources Secretary Keith Pitt said Thursday that the loan will support the first phase of development that “will bring royalties and export revenue to Queensland and Australia for many years to come.”
According to the minister, these funds will be spent on railways, power lines, water pipes, roads and a coal processing plant, as well as supporting up to 700 jobs during construction and “over 500 for the region” when fully operational.
Pembroke Resources’ Olive Downs project will create jobs and opportunities for central Queensland and the nearby city of Moranbah, Pitt said. “Metallurgical coal is critical to steel production and is an important commodity for Australia’s trading partners to help support their economic development.”
The announcement came two months after Pitt. used his veto to block a $ 280 million loan to Naif for a wind farm and related infrastructure southwest of Cairns on the grounds that it will not provide “managed” electricity.
In contrast, Naif said the coal mine loan “passed the non-veto phase” and was approved by the state government.
Suzanne Harter of the Australian Conservation Fund said the Morrison government is investing public money in coal as investors around the world move away from fossil fuels and Australian banks increasingly refuse to fund coal.
“It is completely irresponsible to use public money to support a coal project in 2021,” she said, referring to a recent call International Energy Agency it said there should be no new investment in fossil fuels if the world is to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
“It looks like investing in Olive Downs would not be suitable for other investors, but the minister and the Naif board decided it was an acceptable use of public money.
“Investing public funds in coal runs counter to Australia’s own economic regulators, which view climate change as one of the greatest threats to our economic system.”
Naif said the Olive Downs reserves more than 500 million tonnes of coal, with up to 15 million tonnes per year projected at peak production. It will be transported by rail to the Dalrymple Bay coal terminal for export to “key international markets such as Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and India.”
Agency CEO Chris Wade said: “We are delighted to be supporting a major job creation project in one of central Queensland’s key industries.”
Richie Merzian, director of the climate and energy program at the Australian Institute, said the loan was a bad idea.
“These mines are capital intensive, they certainly require significant emissions at this stage of coal mining, do we really need to continue subsidizing it?”
Merzian said that while metallurgical coal for steel production was expected to have a longer life than steam coal used for power generation, “we know from experience that most of these mines tend to also produce steam coal.”
“Make no mistake, this project will continue to generate more emissions,” he said. “The more we subsidize dirty steel production, the more difficult it is for us to switch to environmentally friendly steel production, which is allegedly one of the government’s priorities within the framework of low emission technology statement… “
Pembroke Resources said the Olive Downs “will truly be a 21st century mine, built to 21st century standards, designed to meet and exceed the most stringent environmental commitments while creating local jobs.”
“As a new mine with no legacy issues, the Olive Downs in Pembroke has the potential to be a vanguard for others in the industry,” said CEO Barry Tudor.
According to estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global emissions should be will fall by about 45% between 2010 and 2030 to keep life Paris Agreement the goal of continuing efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels.