BACKGROUND

Hume Coal Pty Ltd is seeking approval for construction of an underground coal mine and associated mine infrastructure near Moss Vale in the Southern Highlands of NSW.   Hume Coal is a subsidiary of POSCO, a Korean-based multinational steel manufacturer.  The project proposes to produce 39 million tonnes of saleable coal, about 55% metallurgical coal and 45% thermal coal.

The NSW Planning and Environment page for this project can be found here.

There is local opposition to the project from Coal Free Southern Highlands, Battle for Berrima, and Lock the Gate.  350 Canberra, on behalf of 350 Australia, offered to add its voice to those opposing the mine.

 

FULL TEXT

You can access the full text of our submission here:

Hume Coal 350 Australia submission

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This submission is written largely from a climate change perspective.  Our primary concern is that the mining of additional thermal coal through the Hume Coal proposal, and its subsequent burning, would be inconsistent with the NSW Climate Change Policy Framework.  While we know that the Federal Government currently has no effective policies to achieve its own 26-28% emissions reduction target, let alone a policy which would be consistent with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C, we assert that this policy vacuum should not excuse the Government of New South Wales from taking the Paris goals seriously.  Taking them seriously implies that we cannot embark on new fossil fuel projects, including the thermal coal component of the proposed Hume Coal mine.

The economic assessment provided in the EIS is partly based on forecasts for coal prices in the year 2040 which we assert are highly risky.  We draw attention to the rapid shift away from coal consumption in Asia in the past few years, and we cite the head of Blackrock’s observation that “anyone who’s looking to take beyond a 10-year view on coal is gambling very significantly”.  We also cite the pledge of the new President of South Korea (Moon Jae In) to permanently close old coal-fired plants and to reassess plans to construct nine new plants.

Finally, we comment on the statement in the EIS that “the only long term subsidence risk [and the consequent risk to groundwater] relates to the integrity and stability of the remnant coal pillar system that is left behind after mining is complete”.  In the light of the “Robertson earthquake” of 22 May 1961, and the lesser earthquake of 11 December 2003, we submit that the “pillars of coal” that are designed to counter subsidence would be at serious risk of collapsing if a similar earthquake should occur again. The consequence of such an event would be major because of the potential impact on Sydney’s water supply.

 

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