Australian think tank Blueprint Institute has released a report encouraging government support for coal-mining regions at risk of having the rug pulled from underneath them.
With new coal projects being declined and existing coal operations shutting down as the renewable energy transition occurs, communities that financially rely on these industries could be left out in the cold.
According to Blueprint Institute, over 50,000 Australians are directly employed by the coal industry, while another 120,000 people indirectly benefit from the sector.
The think tank advocates for the creation of coal adaptation authorities based in regions that rely on coal mining.
The authorities would be designed to empower regional Australians facing the obstacles of a waning coal industry, while also encouraging them to seize opportunities that come from the renewable energy landscape.
“Each authority would be set up with $20 million from the Federal Government to cover all initial staffing, operations and initiatives. But ongoing revenue streams would flow from the state level,” the report said.
“As some of our regional economies begin to feel the effects of the energy transformation (away from coal), 5 per cent of the royalties collected by state governments from the coal mining sector should be fed back into those communities that have formed the backbone of Australian economic growth.”
Citing a report from the Minerals Council of Australia, the Blueprint Institute infers that Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria received $3.5 billion, $1.6 billion and $78 million in coal royalties in 2019-20 respectively.
As part of Blueprint Institute’s recommendations, the state’s coal adaptation authorities would then receive $175 million, $80 million and $3.9 million in royalties respectively.
“The advantage of such a plan is that the value of coal royalties collected by each state is approximately proportional to the number of coal workers located within them,” the report continued.
“In states where coal royalties are minimal, additional funding approaches may be required.”
Blueprint Institute also encourages the introduction of other strategies such as the development of a national coalfield and infrastructure renewal and repurpose strategy.
“Existing infrastructure should benefit communities economically and socially after mines and plants cease operations,” the report said.