Australia’s prime minister, Tony Abbott, showed his support for the coal industry by not just being on hand for the opening of the $4.2 billion Caval Ridge coal mine in Moranbah, but he took it one step further and declared “coal is good for humanity.”
The BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) coal mine is expected to produce 5.5 Mt/a of hard coking coal, and was built at an estimated cost of $4.2 billion.
With an operational workforce of more than 500 people, the mine has seen controversy over its decision to employ a wholly fly-in-fly-out workforce instead of hiring from within the local community.
At the opening of the mine, Abbott said, “Coal is vital for the future energy needs of the world, so let’s have no demonisation of coal. Coal is good for humanity.”
The Guardian reported that Abbott said, “The future for coal is bright and it is the responsibility for government to try to ensure that we are there making it easier for everyone wanting to have a go.
“It is a great day for the world because this mine will keep so many people employed … it will make so many lives better.
“This mine epitomises the have-a-go spirit,” he said.
In May, Abbott told a minerals industry parliamentary dinner he could think of “few things more damaging to our future” than leaving coal in the ground.
A month later, after a meeting with Barack Obama in June this year, Abbott said he took climate change very seriously.
“I regard myself as a conservationist,” he said. “Frankly, we should rest lightly on the planet and I’m determined to ensure that we do our duty by the future here.”
In Moranbah, the prime minister said he was proud to have abolished the carbon tax and the mining tax.
This month, China imposed a 6 percent tariff on non-coking coal and announced attempts to address pollution in its cities by increasing spending on renewable energy. Last year, China spent $56 billion on wind, solar and other renewable energy projects while Australia’s renewable industry slumped by 70 percent, due to uncertainty over the government’s intentions for the Renewable Energy Target.