Thursday, 2 December, 2021
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Australia vows to sell coal ‘for decades’

Australia vows to sell coal ‘for decades’

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SYDNEYL: Australia said on Monday it will sell coal for “decades into the future” after spurning a pact to phase out the pol-luting fossil fuel to halt catastrophic cli-mate change.

More than 40 countries pledged to elim-inate coal use within decades during the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow, which aims to cap the warming of Earth since the Industrial Revolution to between 1.5 and 2.0 deg C, report agencies.

Australia, along with some other major coal users such as China and the United States, did not sign up.

“We have said very clearly we are not closing coal mines and we are not closing coal-fired power stations,” Australian Min-ister for Resources Keith Pitt told national broadcaster ABC.

Defending Australia’s decision, Pitt said Australia had some of the world’s highest quality coal.

“And that is why we will continue to have markets for decades into the future. And if they’re buying... well, we are sell-ing.” Demand for coal is expected to rise until 2030, the minister claimed.

“If we aren’t to win that market, some-body else will,” Pitt added.

“I would much rather it be Australia’s high-quality product, delivering Aus-tralian jobs and building Australia’s econ-omy than coming from Indonesia or Russia or elsewhere.”

Australia is one of the world’s largest producers of coal and natural gas, but has also suffered under increasingly extreme climate-fuelled droughts, floods and bush-fires in recent years.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s gov-ernment unveiled last month a 2050 net zero emissions target but the plan was crit-icised for lacking detail and relying heavi-ly on as-yet-unknown technological break-throughs.

The Minerals Council of Australia, which represents large miners such as BHP and Rio Tinto, has said a 2050 target is achievable through significant investment in technology.

Pitt said some 300,000 Australians’ jobs were reliant on the coal sector. The Miner-als Council of Australia itself says the coal industry directly employs 50,000 workers while supporting another 120,000 jobs.

Major mining groups such as BHP say they are exiting the most polluting fossil fuels.

In its latest divestment, BHP announced Monday it had sold its 80 percent stake in a metallurgical coal mine in the eastern state of Queensland to Stanmore Re-sources for at least US$1.2 billion.

“As the world decarbonises, BHP is sharpening its focus on producing higher quality metallurgical coal sought after by global steelmakers to help increase effi-ciency and lower emissions,” BHP head of Australian mining Edgar Basto said in a statement.