Premier coal mine sale raises concerns

The sale of Wesfarmers’s Premier coal mine in Collie to Chinese-owned Yancoal Australia for $296.8 million raises concerns for the security of WA’s power supplies, according to WA premier Colin Barnett.

Premier is the major supplier to WA’s state-owned power generator Verve Energy, which produces about 60 per cent of the power for the state’s southwest grid.

Barnett said while he expected Yancoal to honour current contracts between Verve and Wesfarmers he had reservations about the long-term supply of energy.

“Indeed while these are private companies, the coal does belong to the state and there are provisions in the state agreement that ensure the coal is reserved for state domestic use,” he told ABC Radio.

“There’s also provisions that ensure they’re not exported without the approval of the state government.”

Barnett said the government had been surprised by the deal, and he was not happy.

He said he had a team of people working on what its implications were for WA.

“We were caught on the hop last night by the announcement – we didn’t expect that.

“I’m not jumping up and down celebrating, this is a problem for the state, no doubt about it.”

Barnett said the government was concerned the state’s major coal fields had “moved into foreign hands”.

Yancoal already operates five mines in NSW and Queensland, which produce about 11 million tonnes of thermal and metallurgical coal a year.

The Premier mine sale still remains subject to approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board.


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