Combet hits out at Coal Association

The minister for Climate Change Greg Combet has claimed the Australian Coal Association (ACA) is trying to frighten workers and regional communities over the carbon tax.

Combet said the ACA’s plan to run regional advertisements ‘exaggerating the impact of a carbon price’ showed the lobby group is more interested in conducting a scare campaign than showing the facts.

“The ACA would better serve the interests of both its own industry and the nation by embracing the opportunity to be part of the solution rather than mounting scare campaigns designed to block responsible action to lower carbon pollution and tackle climate change,” Combet said.

“The simple fact is that the coal industry has a very bright future in Australia and will be supported as we introduce a carbon price by the Government’s $1.3 billion Coals Sector Jobs Package,” he added.

The minister said the campaign launched yesterday draws on a survey done by ACIL Tasman, which predicted that 4700 jobs in coal mining were at risk.

He said that the survey worked off the assumption of a carbon price of $55 a tonne in 2020, contrasting modelling by the government of a $29 per tonne price for 2020.

On top of this, the ACIL Tasman survey did not take into account the $1.3 billion in assistance to provide support jobs under the Coal Sector Jobs Package.

The ACA’s insistence on using dodgy assumptions to predict doom and gloom under a carbon price does the coal industry’s reputation no good,” Combet said.

“I can assure coal miners that their industry has a bright future under a carbon price.

“Treasury modelling shows the Australian coal sector more than doubling its output by 2050 with a carbon price in place.

“The coal industry made almost $15 billion in profits in 2009-10 and has $70 billion of new investment in the pipeline, with 105 new mines under construction or awaiting approval.

“Only last week, Peabody Energy announced a $4.7 billion takeover bid for Macarthur Coal –a clear vote of confidence in the future of the industry with a carbon price.”

The latest bid of amounts to $15.50 per Macarthur share and is a joint bid from Peabody and Macarthur’s 16 per cent shareholder ArcelorMittal.

It has a 50.01 per cent acceptance condition does not eliminate the possibility of rejection by two major shareholders, China’s CITIC Group and Posco, the Korean steel company.

Australian coal association chief executive Ralph Hillman told The Australian the carbon tax doesn’t change the fact Macarthur is a good asset

Former miners union Hunter Valley district president Mick Watson agreed that no jobs would be lost as a result of the carbon tax.

He concurred with Combet, telling Newcastle Herald the industry’s reaction to the tax is “just scare tactics to get Labor to reduce the impact of the tax”.

Combet explained that the majority of coal mines do not release high amounts of greenhouse gases, so will only have minimal liabilities under the carbon pricing scheme.

“With a $23 a tonne carbon price, once the Government’s assistance is taken into account, the impact on costs for the coal mining industry will be less than $2 for every tonne of coal produced, on average across the industry,” he said.

“This cost impact of less than $2 a tonne of coal should be compared to selling prices of more than $300 a tonne for metallurgical coal and around $120 a tonne for thermal coal.”

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.