Mining groups slam plan for Galilee Basin coal ban

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) and Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) have joined forces to criticise an Australian Greens Party proposal to ban thermal coal mining in the Galilee Basin, Queensland.

Greens Senator Larissa Waters first presented the Galilee Basin (Coal Prohibition) Bill 2018 to the senate on December 5 last year, proposing that thermal coal mining be banned in the Galilee subregion.

The bill states that entities who flout the ban should be punished by either imprisonment for two years, a fine of 1000 penalty units ($130,550 going by the 2018 Queensland penalty unit price of $130.55), or both.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane and CFMEU Mining and Energy Division district president Stephen Smyth commended Waters’ enthusiasm in the submission but suggested that the bill ignored current “state and regulatory scrutiny” surrounding projects in the Galilee Basin.

The submission went on to state that such a “blunt legislative fix” was inappropriate.

Macfarlane and Smyth suggested the bill would cause significant costs to the local community and would be unlikely to reduce global emissions or affect global demand for thermal coal, which has seen a surge in the past two years due to Asian demand.

“This bill doesn’t stack up. It would be little more than an act of self-sabotage which would cost Queenslanders their jobs for no reason and for no reduction in the global use of coal,” Macfarlane said.

“The global demand for coal is strong, and coal is forecast to remain at about 40 per cent of total power generation in the Asia Pacific by the year 2040 under a scenario modelled by the International Energy Agency.”

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), which also made a submission to the senate regarding the bill, was equally critical.

MCA chief executive officer Tania Constable called the bill an “attack on the world-class Australian minerals industry,” adding the ban would “do nothing” to reduce emissions.

“Instead of engaging in blinkered, politically driven stunts, the Greens should focus on constructive efforts to ensure Australian coal is used more sustainably through innovation and carbon capture and storage and support regional communities and jobs,” Constable said.