NSW Minerals, coal obsessed, digs itself deeper in to a hole


IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 20 June 2013, Melbourne 

"The NSW Minerals Council call to 'dig deeper' and 'find a real solution', is a shallow one given its duplicity in causing environmental, economic and health damage to the New South Wales community over many decades," said Matthew Wright Executive Director of climate and energy solutions think-tank Zero Emissions.

"It is coal mining, not the carbon-tax or the Climate Commission's call for a phase down of coal over the next decade that is putting our standard of living at risk," said Wright

"Coal mining with very little local processing unnecessarily drives up the dollar; forcing a third generation family farmer in Gunnedah to sell up, a textile worker in Melbourne to lose their job making Aussie Made hosiery, a Sydney car parts supplier to go belly up and a university lecturer to be made redundant in the Hunter.

Coal mining is a fly-in, fly-out industry, with fly-in, fly-out foreign owners, insecure contract jobs and off shore profits that offer almost nothing for rural and regional New South Wales,

Most of the profits from New South Wales coal mining go overseas, with over 85% foreign ownership of the sector," said Wright. 

"The claim made by Stephen Galilee, CEO of the NSW Minerals Council that NSW mining companies contribute significantly to our economy, sounds alluring. However if we look deeper into that questionable figure claim of money being spent by the coal miners, the simple fact is that billions are being spent on importing mining equipment and other associated infrastructure hardware which is made overseas and contains very little local Australian content. It also adds to our current account deficit weighing heavily on our economy and hurting ordinary hard working Australians.

The spurious claim that "leaving our coal in the ground would simply mean more coal mined elsewhere in the world" has been debunked over and over by economists.  Investors in the energy sector are increasingly reticent about investing in countries with less stable political and social systems than our own and if Australia (the world's biggest sea-borne exporter of coal) were to wind down exports, the impact would immediately be higher prices and lower consumption," said Wright. 

"Investing in coal burning, or continuing to use coal in older plants is a marginal call for any energy company today.

The difference in India between burning coal and opening a solar facility is so line-ball that even today Coal India (the world's biggest coal company) has started using solar panels to replace coal burning at a number of its facilities with a view to moving more and more to renewables.

Most if not all mining royalties in NSW, are gobbled up by infrastructure and services that are supplied by the NSW government just to help out that industry. When it comes to coal mining royalties it's a viscous cycle of robbing Peter to pay Paul," said Wright. 

In addition $1.3 Billion in mining royalties is tiny when you compare it to over $75 Billion paid in income taxes by everyday mums,dads, sons and daughters right across NSW each year, this is where the real money for schools, hospitals, police and other services comes from, not from the miners.

The carbon-tax scare is another shallow effort from the fly-in fly-out foreign miners and their peak body the NSW Minerals council to try to avoid the inevitable, which is to pay for the damage they're doing and inevitably shutter their unprofitable operations," said Wright.

The NSW Minerals council will dig itself even deeper into a whopping big coal hole if it keeps on with its blatant mis-truths extolling the benefits of fossil-fuel mining which will go as quickly as the job of a fly-in fly-out contract worker on a 6PM end-of-shift flight for his fortnight off.

"And the biggest hole of all, even bigger than a coal mine is the claim that Carbon Capture and Storage will do anything for the climate.  CCS is a marketing dream and should never be confused for a technology.  Not one light bulb, ANYWHERE in the world,  is powered by even a test coal plant with carbon capture and storage that stores its waste carbon underground. NOT ONE.  And there are no such facilities being built and will ever likely be built due to the insane engineering and capital spend required.  Capital costs that outstrip the cost of renewables today, and that will outstrip the costs of renewables in the future when renewables are cheaper than all other sources of energy," said Wright.

"NSW Minerals and its members should be concentrating on using renewable energy like wind and solar to mine resources that are suitable for the 21st century, not dirty 19th century fossil fuels such as coal which has long ago been kicked out of our cities and homes and will soon be kicked out of rural and regional Australia for being so dangerous and damaging."

Out of sight isn't out of mind when it comes to coal, just because we're no longer asphyxiating on coal burning in our houses or in power plants in our cities doesn't mean we're not aware of it and not aware of the damage its doing!" concluded Wright.

FOR COMMENT Matthew Wright 0421 616 733

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