Tag Archives: climate change

Court rules out Hunter Valley coalmine on climate change grounds

A judge has rejected the Rocky Hill coal mine at scenic Gloucester Valley in the Upper Hunter because of its ‘visual and social impacts’. Photograph: David Angel/Alamy Stock Photo

Judge rejects Rocky Hill mine near Gloucester, NSW, because of its impact on the town and ‘dire consequences’ of increasing emissions

Michael McGowan and Lisa Cox | The Guardian | February 7, 2019

The controversial Rocky Hill coalmine in the Hunter Valley will not go ahead after a landmark ruling in the land and environment court on Friday that cited the impact it would have had on climate change.

Chief judge Brian Preston dismissed an appeal by Gloucester Resources, which was seeking to overturn a New South Wales government decision to reject an open-cut mine because of its impact on the town of Gloucester, north of Newcastle.

The EDO joined the case last April, arguing on behalf of its client, Groundswell Gloucester, that the mine’s detrimental impact on climate change and on the social fabric of the town should be considered as part of the merit appeal.

David Morris, the chief executive of EDO NSW, called the decision “momentous” and said it would be “profoundly influential” in the approval of future fossil fuel projects.

“It’s very difficult to see how any future coal project avoids the judge’s finding about this being the wrong time for it,” he said.

In his judgment, Preston explicitly cited the project’s potential impact on climate change, writing that an open-cut coalmine in the Gloucester Valley “would be in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

“Wrong place because an open cut coal mine in this scenic and cultural landscape, proximate to many people’s homes and farms, will cause significant planning, amenity, visual and social impacts,” he wrote.

“Wrong time because the GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions of the coal mine and its coal product will increase global total concentrations of GHGs at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in GHG emissions. These dire consequences should be avoided. The project should be refused.”

In a “first of its kind” hearing, the EDO had argued that the mine should be refused in part because of its impact on Australia’s commitments to the Paris climate agreement.

In his judgment, Preston noted that while there was “no proscription” on the approval of new emissions sources such as coalmines under the agreement, approval of the project “cannot assist in achieving the rapid and deep reductions in GHG emissions that are necessary” to meet the goals of the agreement.

“It matters not that the aggregate of the project’s greenhouse gas emissions may represent a small fraction of the global total”, he said.

“The global problem of climate change needs to be addressed by multiple local actions to mitigate emissions by sources and remove greenhouse gases by sinks.”

He rejected GRL’s argument that the project should be allowed because emissions from the mine would be abated by other emissions reductions schemes as “speculative and hypothetical”.

“There is no evidence before the court of any specific and certain action to ‘net out’ the GHG emissions of the project,” he wrote in his judgment.

“A consent authority cannot rationally approve a development that is likely to have some identified environmental impact on the theoretical possibility that the environmental impact will be mitigated or offset by some unspecified and uncertain action at some unspecified and uncertain time in the future.”

The judgment also rejected the mine on the grounds of its visual impact and the social impact of factors such as dust and noise on the surrounding community.

Morris said the ramifications would be felt by state and federal ministers and other decision makers who assess fossil fuel projects.

“This is necessarily a case-specific judgment. It relates to this coalmine proposed in the Gloucester Valley,” Morris said. “It is persuasive, influential but it is not binding on any future decision.

“But it will weigh heavily on the minds of decision makers.”

He said the judge’s comment that the mine was being proposed at the “wrong time” was “applicable to every fossil fuel project that’s proposed in this country and internationally going forward.”

Morris said Australia was increasingly approaching a moment when approval of a fossil fuel project could be considered “unreasonable”.

“And unreasonableness is a ground of legal challenge,” he said.

Climate Council chief executive Amanda McKenzie also welcomed the decision.

“The NSW Land and Environment court has effectively ruled that coal – just like tobacco and asbestos – is bad for us,” McKenzie said.

“I’m thrilled to see the law catching up with the science.

“If I was proposing to build a coal mine right now, I’d be feeling pretty nervous.”

NSW planning minister Anthony Roberts was asked for the government’s reaction to the court’s decision.

“That is the legal process and we respect the court’s decision,” he said.

A spokesman for the NSW planning and environment department said the department was pleased the court had agreed with its recommendation on the proposed coal mine. He said the decision supported the current process of assessing developments on a case-by-case basis.

In 2017, the independent planning commission rejected the mine because of its proximity to the town of Gloucester, its visual impact, and contravention of the city’s zoning plans.

“The judgment confirms the Department of Planning and Environment was correct in its decision to recommend refusal of the application to the Independent Planning Commission, and the Commission was correct to refuse the application,” the spokesman said.

“This decision shows NSW has a robust and transparent planning process that is delivering the best outcomes for the whole community.”

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K400M Lae Coal Plant In Jeopardy

Benny Geteng | Post Courier | February 7, 2019

THE proposed K400 million coal-fired power plant to be built in Lae is in jeopardy as PNG Power Limited is not considering the power option put forward by developer Mayur Resources.

PPL acting managing director Carolyn Blacklock, when responding to questions posed by the Post-Courier in regards to the power purchasing agreement sent by Mayur to PPL and how the PPL is handling the proposal at present, said PNG Power is not considering the Mayur proposal.

This means the bid to have the coal power plant in Lae is in limbo since the PPA approval will grant Mayur the green light to go ahead with the project construction phase.

Ms Blacklock said PNG Power has a clear IPP Policy that supports competitive bidding of planned generation, transmission and distribution investments.

“It is not a planned activity of PNG Power and is not being considered,” she said.

Mayur managing director Paul Mulder said PNG Power is under obligation to assess the power purchasing agreement (PPA).

“The PPL board has the obligation to assess our bid and make recommendations this year,” he said.

Energy minister Sam Basil had earlier written to PPL board chairman Peter Nupiri in October to request PPL board to assess Mayur’s proposal since their bid was solicited by PNG Power through a letter by Chris Bais (PPL director strategic planning and business development) in 2015, granting Mayur leave to send a PPA proposal for assessment.

Mayur Resources submitted a proposal that is still yet to be assessed by the PPL board.

This now contradicts Ms Blacklock’s response since according to Mr Basil’s letter, until the review of Mayur’s proposal is assessed, then he will accept the PPL’s board decision.

The coal power plant in Lae is to be spearheaded by Mayur Resources Limited and is expected to utilise coal seams extracted from the seas of Gulf province and is anticipated to generate revenue for Lae City Authority and the Morobe provincial government.

Mr Basil, Lae MP John Rosso and Morobe governor Ginson Saonu have backed the proposed project to be built in Lae .

It is expected to generate K4m annually to the provincial coffers, among other benefit

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Coal Power not a Favorable Option

Stret Pasin:  Good news but I hope she has locked in her support as she will come in for attack from the coal proponents and their cronies. They will try to get rid of her if she does not follow their line.

Adelaide Kari | EMTV | February 5, 2019

Mayur Resource when speaking to EMTV News stated that they had submitted a Power Purchase Agreement proposal to PNG Power and was confident they had tick all the boxes.

Today, PNG Power Acting Managing Director, Carolyn Blacklock, commenting on the proposal of coal, said the company is looking towards renewable energy.

PNG Power confirmed they had received the Power purchase agreement for Mayur Resources but were not confident that the proposal showed a commitment that would last 25 years.

Blacklock also stated that PNG Power was looking more towards hydro and solar, and coal power would not be a part of PPL Plan.

The Minister for Energy, Sam Basil, an open supporter of the Coal Power station, has publicly said the ball was now in PNG Power’s corner. With PNG Power weary of the idea of a coal power station, what does this mean for Mayur’s prospect of a coal power station?

But the prospect of a Coal Power station may still be pushed with the National Energy Bill that is currently being drafted, exact specifics of this touted National Energy Bill have not been given out to the public just yet. The Minister for Energy, Sam Basil, stated it will allow other energy companies, provincial governments and landowners to enter into agreements to supply energy without approval from the State-owned PNG Power.

Northern Governor, Gary Juffa, who has openly gone against the idea of coal mining in PNG, says the National Energy Bill needs to be structured properly, and should be based on renewable energy. Governor Juffa stated that the bill will allow provincial government to create revenue and is a positive to the bill.

The argument for cheaper vs cleaner energy has become the source of a debate that will continue until the National Energy Bill is tabled in Parliament, and even that information, is still unclear.

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Aussie Coal Use Impresses Tuke

Benny Geteng | Post Courier | February 1, 2019

MINING Minister Johnson Tuke is impressed with coal-powered technology used in Australia and has indicated strong backing of the Lae coal-powered plant project.

Mr Tuke’s trip to one of Australia’s coal mines in January assured him that the similar technology that will be used by Mayur Resources for the K400 million proposed project for Lae will be beneficial.

He said globally, coal is a resource of immense proportions and PNG has never mined coal, while neighbouring countries, especially Australia and Indonesia, continue to reap the rewards of this commodity by exporting and empowering their people with far higher living standards than what we have in PNG, while using inferior coal quality compared with our PNG coal.

“This coal has remained in the ground and until recent years this was the same story for gas, which now is a thriving LNG sector,” Mr Tuke said.

“If you look at Australia, they are benefiting by creating large revenue from coal exports and domestically, coal still provides more than 60 per cent of all their electricity generation. Coal is forecast to be Australia’s largest export earner at AUD$58.1 billion (K137.5bn) in 2018-19, this one commodity is two times PNG’s GDP for the entire country per year.

“That’s K138 billion and while we may not have this volume to export or use internally, even imagine if a coal industry could add K1-2 billion to government revenue. Gulf Province is endowed with extensive far cleaner coal seams than what Australia uses and you can even touch it at the surface.

“I saw houses around the power plant, I saw clean water, I saw abundant fish life in the cooling water channel leading into Lake Macquarie, I saw trees and parks, and no black smoke, only very minor clean filtered steam from the power plant.”

He said Vales Point (NSW, Australia) operating coal power plant produces 1330 megawatts, 2 two times bigger than PNG’s total installed electricity and that is 26 times bigger than what is proposed in Lae.

Mayur Resources managing director Paul Mulder said the proposed coal powered plant in Lae is similar and will rid Lae city of its blackout situation once given permission to supply power on the Ramu Grid.

He said power supply will be on 24 hours — 7 days a week, 100 per cent continuous supply for Lae city.

Mr Tuke said that people should not be blind to what is happening outside PNG in neighbouring countries.

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Rugby League stars’ promotion of coal in PNG questioned

Brisbane and Queensland rugby league player Sam Thaiday. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Radio New Zealand | 23 January 2019 

Questions have been raised in Papua New Guinea over the visit by Australian rugby league stars to promote coal development in the country.

The Australian company Mayur Resources has an environmental permit to mine coal in PNG’s Gulf Province, and is proposing a coal-fired power plant in Lae.

It’s recently deployed a second former league star, Sam Thaiday, to PNG in a promotional capacity.

Former Australian captain Darren Lockyer is Mayur’s head of Business Affairs.

Christian Lohberger of Nogat Coal PNG, which opposes Mayur’s plans, said the league stars, and Lockyer in particular, are idolised in PNG.

“Even though they’re just footballers, when they talk and say stuff, people listen. So I guess it’s a smart move by Mayur to bring them on board. But I don’t know if it’s really ethical that they should be using Papua New Guineans’ love of rugby league to promote something that’s not really connected.”

Mr Lohberger said that the proposed plant would create significant pollution and cause harm and death to local communities.

However, PNG’s Minister for Energy Sam Basil is supporting the coal project, saying it would open up access to cheaper energy that has long been lacking in the country.

Mr Basil has voiced concern that the current power plant in Lae uses imported heavy fuel oil and is cost inefficient.

He said that PNG should explore as many local energy options as possible, given the country’s range of natural resources.

However the plant backers have not secured a local customer or off-taker for the power produced at the plant.

The main power supplier in the country, PNG Power, has been reluctant to buy electricity from coal sources.

Mr Lohberger said he understood PNG Power was waiting on a pending World Bank report on a comprehensive electricity generation cost strategy, which could affect a decision on linking up with Mayur’s plant.

“I would say with the way global trends are going, the surge in renewable energy, and the fall in prices of solar and wind and hydro, that any report that takes a look at power prices is not going to be favourable to coal,” he explained.

But global shifts away from investment in fossil fuels, due to pressing climate change issues, are not deterring the minister who has cited PNG’s neighbours’ energy policies.

Mr Basil said that with both Australia and Indonesia heavily reliant on coal power, PNG should not deprive itself of a home-grown asset.

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Tuke seduced by coal

Tuke Visits Coal Plant ‘For Perspective’

Post Courier | January 10, 2019

Mining Minister Johnson Tuke visited a coal fired power plant north of Sydney to gain a perspective on modern technology and the benefits of utilizing PNG’s own domestic coal resources.

The 15th Papua New Guinea Mining and Petroleum Investment Conference was held in Sydney, Australia last month, with an extensive focus placed on the future of mining and energy solutions for Papua New Guinea.

While attending the Conference last month, a senior PNG government delegation led by the minister conducted a visit to one of Australia’s longest running power plants.

The Mining Minister’s focus was to understand better how PNG could benefit from a more diversified energy mix at the lowest cost while also developing a more diversified resources and mining sector.

PNG, while strong in gold, copper, and recently in natural gas and nickel production needs to diversify its opportunities and create new revenue sectors for the nation. This was a sentiment echoed throughout the Sydney conference.

Power generation was also key topic of debate at the conference, including the nationwide electrification program that is essential for PNG to meet its commitments set out in the Alotau accords.

“I am looking at ways to expand opportunities in our extractives sector, how to increase Government revenue from Mining, and using global research in consultation with our international partners to review the sectors that PNG should be considering.”

“While it is a debated topic currently, especially in the Lae region, NEC has agreed that in our current state of energy poverty with only 13 per cent of our people having access to electricity, we will look at all forms of energy in our energy mix as all other nations around us have and will continue to do.

He reminded those critical to idea of a coal producing PNG, not to forget that for the last 43 years since independence most of PNG’s electricity has come from high polluting imported heavy fuel oil and diesel.

“I need to remind them we have our own cleaner low cost, low ash, low Sulphur high quality coal right here in PNG in the Gulf Province.

“Globally coal is a resource of immense proportions. PNG has never mined Coal, while our neighbouring countries (especially Australia and Indonesia) continue to reap the rewards of this commodity by exporting and empowering their people with far higher living standards than what we have in PNG while using inferior coal quality compared with our PNG coal,” Mr Tuke said.

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Govt will support coal power plant, says Basil

Peter Esila | The National aka The Loggers Times | November 29, 2018

THE Government will support any type of energy-producing sources developed in the country, including coal, says Minister for Energy Sam Basil.
Basil, one of the major proponents of the coal project in Lae together with Lae MP John Rosso, said this on FM 100 talkback radio yesterday in reference to that project.
Bulolo MP Basil and Ross have already encountered fierce resistance to the project in light of environmental implications.
This includes biomass energy project landowners in the Markham Valley of Morobe.
“We will continue to support all the different power-producing companies using different methods that are coming into PNG to operate, coal being one of them,” Basil said.
“The important thing that we must also look at is that when we start putting new power plants in districts and provinces, I’d like to look more into the landowners, the local level government, districts, towns and the provinces.
“What kind of benefits will we have in return for those people who may have their land and resources available for those projects to take stage?
“We should now be looking at more benefits rolling back into the host districts and provinces, and landowners.”
Basil is aware of resistance to him and Rosso.
“I would like to test new ideas, new ways of doing things because PNG has been neglected for awhile,” he said.
“Our neighbours Indonesia and Australia are heavily dependent – more than 50 per cent – on coal.
“We should be asking ourselves: How can we progress PNG forward? I think that one of the answers is having access to energy.
“We have a lot of raw resources to burn, to produce products for us, decapitating international prices by having access to our own energy here like gas, coal and others.
“It is one of the things that we should be promoting,”
Of solar energy, Basil said: “We are looking for solar places.
“For example, we are asking the DDA (district development authority) of Markham and other districts that have ample land, good sunlight, to make land available.
“Register with the Energy Department so that when people come and look around for putting up solar plants, we have got land there.
“We can also identify potential sites for geothermal.”
Basil said that the National Energy Bill, which would allow for energy investments, was in its final stages.

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