Thomson calls for coal export restrictions

Banning the exportation of coal mined from the New South Wales Wyong Valley is what former Labor minister, turned crossbencher Craig Thomson is calling for.

Yesterday the MP tabled a Private Members Bill which could prevent Kores Australia from securing a coal export licence, a company spokesman told Australian Mining. 

The South Korean government-owned company is behind the plans for the Wallarah 2 underground coal mine near Wyong.

The Wallarah 2 Environmental Impact Statement is due to be released after Easter, despite a pre-election guarantee from Barry O'Farrell that it would never be considered under a Coalition Government.

The mine was initially rejected by Labor in March 2011 because of its potential impact on the local water catchment.

Spokesman for the Wallarah 2 coal project, Patrick Southam told Australian Mining that opposition to the mine has been exaggerated.

“Mr Thomson and the opponents of the Wallarah 2 project wildly over-estimate the opposition that exists on the Central Coast,” he said.

Commenting on the bill, Southam said Thomson’s move to prevent Kores Australia from attaining an export licence elevates a state matter into the federal sphere.

“Mr Thomson is seeking to circumvent the orderly state planning process of New South Wales,” he said.

“Seeking to deny the company an export licence on a project that hasn’t been approved yet would be an extraordinary step.

Southam said the company has written to various ministers on both sides of politics urging them not to support the bill.

Thomson’s bill comes on the same day the Federal Government Environment Minister Tony Burke announced the move to increase powers around the approval and rejection of coal mine and coal seam gas projects.

Burke said he wants to change the law so that he can consider the impact on water as part of his decision making process, the ABC reported.

Previously federal approval only related to threatened species or wetlands, journalist Latika Bourke yesterday tweeted.

Thomson stated that while he welcomes the Federal Government's move to extend its powers, it needs to go further.

"We're still relying on a process which is about approving mines and it doesn't go, in some respects to the broader community view and how that can be taken into account," he said.

"People in electorates trust the laws, they don't necessarily trust the politicians.

"And that's why I tabled a bill today that looks to restrict the export licences of miners in the Wyong Shire in particular, but more broadly any other area that the minister by legislative means, deems to be appropriate."

The $800 million coal mine proposal for Wyong in New South Wales has also received support from Liberal party identity Nick di Girolamo who has been lobbying on behalf of the companies behind the plan.

Southam said the state of New South Wales is the second largest coal exporter to South Korea and is considered a very important source.

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