A noisy group of protesters gathered outside the Australian Infrastructure Investors Forum on September 12 to “welcome” its keynote speaker, the CEO of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) Laurie Walker. NAIF Board members are the focus of a campaign by the movement to prevent the massive Adani coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee basin.
For a long time, Australian governments have believed that the private sector should run the electricity sector. Successive governments have used market instruments to incentivise reducing emissions, by supporting renewables, discouraging coal use, or both.
The electricity industry crisis has reached new heights, with the federal government pressuring giant energy company AGL to keep the ageing Liddell coal-fired power station open for a further five years after 2022, its due date for closure.
Liddell, in the Hunter Valley region of NSW, is a coal-burning dinosaur. The reality is neither the government’s policy of defending Big Coal, nor its reliance on the so-called “energy market”, will solve the problem of skyrocketing electricity prices for consumers or the looming environmental crisis.
The Resources Regulator Lee Shearer revealed in a Budget Estimates hearing on September 1 that it is investigating whether Korean mining company KEPCO is fit and proper to hold a mining licence in New South Wales, after serious international fraud and corruption allegations against the company were made.
KEPCO is proposing to develop two open-cut coalmines in the beautiful Bylong Valley, about 55 km north-east of Mudgee in north-western NSW. The mine is expected to produce up to 6.5 million tonnes of coal a year for 25 years, commencing early next year.
More than 350 activists participated in the Sydney Stop Adani Summit on September 2.
Participants came from a range of organisations. Some were part of the Stop Adani Alliance, which includes the Bob Brown Foundation, the Australian Conservation Foundation, 350.org, GetUp!, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network, Sea Shepherd and the Australian Marine Conservation Society.
An open letter from eight former agronomists and soil scientists, including five who worked for the Department of Primary Industries, has urged NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to halt Shenhua’s Watermark coalmine and protect the Liverpool Plains from mining.
The letter said the agreement the government reached last month with Shenhua to renew its coal exploration licence, paving the way for the mine to proceed, puts at risk “the future of one of the major contributors to food and fibre security”.
Mining company Rio Tinto has been fined only $50,000 over the collapse of a dam wall at its Mount Thorley Warkworth mine last year.
It is estimated that up to 4 megalitres of sediment-laden rainwater flowed into the Wallaby Scrub Road reserve from the dam. The company blamed the collapse on several days of continuous rain, which softened the dam’s earth wall. However the court found the event was not a major storm but "merely what is regarded as a one-in-two-year rain event".
After a local community campaign lasting almost a decade, the South Australian government has finally committed to build solar thermal with storage in Port Augusta. It will bring 24-hour solar power to SA, creating hundreds of regional jobs, cutting pollution and putting downward pressure on electricity prices.
Activists have called for an independent inquiry into the Maules Creek coalmine in north-west NSW and its impact on the surrounding farming community after documents obtained by Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) revealed a litany of environmental licence breaches over the past six years.
EJA applied to access documents known as annual returns, which detail breaches or "non-compliance with [environmental] licence", through the Government Information (Public Access) Act. But Whitehaven Coal, which owns the Maules Creek mine, fought them all the way.