Today’s announcement that coal mining will be allowed to continue at Anglesea is possibly the worst in a long list of bad environmental decisions since the Baillieu government was elected, according to Friends of the Earth. The government says that
the supporting legislation, introduced by the government today, will “modernise” its agreement with the Anglesea coal mine and power station and support regional jobs.
Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker said “what the government fails to mention is that the Point Henry smelter is not dependent on receiving energy from Anglesea to be viable. Alcoa could buy renewable energy to meet its needs and keep Point Henry going.”
Alcoa began operating the mine in 1961 and indicated in 2008 that it would exercise its right to extend its lease another 50 years. Any future mine expansion will now be limited to three per cent of its total lease area, which is 7,145 hectares, and be subject to a new environmental process.
“The Energy and Resources Minister, Mr O’Brien, says that the revised agreement is a ‘win-win’ outcome. But who wins? Alcoa, who gets to continue to burn dirty, high sulphur coal,” Walker said. “Who loses? The community of Anglesea, who will have to bear decades of public health impacts. The environment loses, as climate pollution will continue. The highly significant coastal heath lands will continue to be negatively impacted”.
“The time for further investment in dirty coal is over. The Baillieu government has yet again missed a significant opportunity to begin the transition to sustainable energy”.
“While the government can say that Alcoa had the right to extend its agreement, the fact remains that the coal resource is the property of the state, not the corporation. A giant corporation has won out against the long term interests of the local community. While landowners in places like Bacchus
Marsh also have no control over new coal and CSG operations on their land, the government has chosen to side with a multi national corporation. It should have had the courage to oppose