News | 25th Jun, 2010

Anger over coal export deal

Friday, 25 June 2010
ABC Gippsland

Environmental groups have gathered in central Melbourne to protest against a $400 million export deal for brown coal.

Victorian company, Environmental Clean Technologies (ECT) and a Vietnamese partner plan to build a processing plant in the Latrobe Valley.

The plant will deliver up to 20-million tonnes of processed brown coal a year to Vietnam.

Representatives of Environment Victoria and the Australian Conservation Foundation are protesting outside the Langham Hotel in Southbank, where a Vietnamese trade delegation is to formalise the deal.

Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) spokesman Tony Mohr says the deal is a step backwards.

"Sadly it's a stoneage decision to go ahead with the export of millions of tonnes of brown coal in a time when Australians want to see Australia move to a clean-energy economy," he said.

The Greens candidate for the marginal federal seat of Melbourne, Adam Brandt, says the export agreement will hurt the environment.

"We know that burning and exporting coal is not sustainable," he said.

"To be signing deals to export and mine more coal are the signs of a party that's living in the 20th century, not living in the 21st century."

The Greens chances of winning Melbourne were boosted yesterday, when the sitting Labor member, Lindsay Tanner, announced his retirement.

Christine Milne, the deputy leader of the Australian Greens, says the deal will not sit well with voters.

"They would have been encouraged by the Prime Minister saying yesterday that she is serious about a carbon price," she said.

"It's no use talking about a carbon price in Australia if at the same time you are going to rev-up coal exports to other parts of the world to make climate change worse."

ECT says the technology removes moisture from the coal to produce the equivalent of a black coal pellet.

Initially, the company will export 2 million tonnes of coal to Vietnam a year, eventually rising to 20 million tonnes.

It is estimated there is at least 500 years of brown coal reserves available.