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I reject the Wilpinjong Coal Mine Expansion

March 7, 2016

NSW’s Wilpinjong Coal Mine sits on the edge of Goulburn River National Park, not far from Bylong and is owned and operated by US-coal company Peabody Energy. The 28 sq km open cut coal mine been operating since 2006 with current approval to produce 12.5 million tonnes per annum of saleable coal until 2027. This extension proposes to destroy a further 800 ha of land and extend the mine’s life until 2033. Contribute your own submission against the mine here Submissions close 10 March 2016.

MARCH 2016

TO: NSW Planning and Environment, Major Project Assessment, Wilpinjong Coal Mine


I REJECT this application on the basis that no new coal can be dug up if Australia is to meaningfully facilitate its commitment to keeping global warming under two degrees.

I REJECT this application to expand based on the precarious nature of Peabody’s finances.

Australia supported the Paris convention last year and acting to keep the earth’s temperature rise at less than 2 degrees. Last week the planet hit a 2 degree increase for the first time, which albeit temporary was significant.

To avoid catastrophic biodiversity loss the expansion of all new coal must stop. It all must be left in the ground. As Bill McKibben says: “We’ve simply got to keep coal and oil and gas in the ground; there’s not any other way to make the math of climate change even begin to work.” (1)

From the Carbon Market Institute in February 2016 “The debate is over – the massive economic impetus to a zero net emissions global economy is unstoppable and business gets it. Consensus has been reached among the world’s major political and economic actors that we are on an inevitable path to decarbonising our economies. The Paris Agreement states that emissions should peak “as soon as possible” with rapid reductions thereafter and includes a five-year cycle for reviewing emissions cuts with action to be continually ratcheted up. We are on a path to net zero emissions” (2)

Castellas CEO of the Carbon Market Institute, mentions that “business gets it”, and “Consensus has been reached among the world’s major political and economic actors”. This consensus means that there must be no new coal, not at Wilpinjong, not by Shenhua, not in water catchments or in the Galilee Basin. How do the coal industry get to have more power, influence than all the “world’s major political and economic actors.”

Maybe a few years ago the environmental impact could have been debated. But in the face of existential climate change, it is not a tweak in the EIS here, a tweak there to appease the local environment concerns, that is relevant.

I reject this mine not just the extension will destroy another 800 ha of land or further impact the Wollar community and its environs. It is not just that it is so close to the Goulburn River National Park and the Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve with its biodiversity and migration zones.  It is that no new coal can be dug up.

No new coal can be dug up in Australia.  No coal expansion in Australia approved.  Go ask the church, the communities, the university scientists, the drs, the nurses and other MOST TRUSTED professions. Call a moratorium until a referendum takes place if needs be. But stop coal finance and power taking away our kids’ futures.


I REJECT this application to expand based on the precarious nature of Peabody’s finances.

Wilpinjong Coal Mine in the Hunter is owned and operated by Peabody Energy US.

Peabody Energy (the largest pure coal play company in the world) is on the brink of bankruptcy, its share price hovering just below $3 down from $179 in Nov 2014 and $50 in mid-2015. It has $6bn debt and can’t pay its bills. (3) It certainly will not pay for any rehabilitation of damage caused at this mine to any level that is needed. And nothing it can pay will turn down the dial of planetary warming except if it stops mining coal.

On 29 Feb 2016 Peabody filed a report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) detailing recent discussions with creditors and outlining potential debt swaps that would not guarantee any of the company’s existing debt.  Across the markets the question is being asked:  Is Peabody Energy Preparing for Bankruptcy? (4)

The question of coal’s impact on climate change must be first and foremost in the framework for approval. There are no economic benefits on a dead planet and certainly not for the lives that will be lost from climate change.

Isabel McIntosh, Sydney







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