Media Releases | 1st Jun, 2018

Mining licence extension a win for big polluters

Extending mining licences for Victoria’s two remaining brown coal mines represents a win for the operators of the nation’s dirtiest power stations and could lock in higher climate pollution unless the Andrews government also adds CO2 limits to power station licences, Environment Victoria said today. 

“This is a deeply disappointing decision that could make it harder for Victoria to achieve its legislated targets to cut climate pollution. It potentially opens the door to Yallourn and Loy Yang pumping hundreds of millions of tonnes more greenhouse pollution into our atmosphere,” said Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham.

Mining licences at Yallourn and Loy Yang mines were due to expire in 2026 and 2037 respectively. They have now been extended to 2051 and 2065. This comes following the government’s decision to delay setting 2025 and 2030 emissions reductions targets until after the state election, and potentially makes it harder to achieve any target recommended by the panel headed by Greg Combet.

“Instead of extending mining licences the state government should have issued a separate licence for the period of mine rehabilitation.

“Today’s decision will make it harder for Victoria to make the significant cuts in CO2 that we need to make, and signals to the renewable energy industry that these old coal clunkers could be around for much longer than they should be, which will only stifle investment in clean energy.

Victoria needs to make significant cuts in CO2 pollution, and today's decision to extend brown coal mining licenses makes that job harder.Click To Tweet

“The only way to repair the damage of today’s decision would be for the Andrews government to put annual CO2 limits on the licences of the power stations, to ensure that extending mining licences does not mean more climate pollution.

“The EPA is currently reviewing the licences of the coal-burning power stations. This process must result in hard limits on CO2 that decline over time, starting from now.

“Climate change is affecting Victorians now. We are already experiencing less water and more intense and deadly bushfires. We don’t have time to wait years before doing the obvious thing and limiting how much climate and air pollution these clunkers can dump into the air.

“The Andrews government has taken some positive steps on climate change, notably strengthening the Climate Change Act, setting a long-term target of net zero emissions by 2050 and committing to a 650 MW reverse auction for more renewable energy. But on top of $50 million for a coal-to-hydrogen project and a disappointing state budget, Premier Andrews urgently needs to re-assert the climate credentials of his government.”

The Andrews government says the mining licences need to be extended to ensure rehabilitation of the mines can be properly carried out.

“The government had already started a much-needed process to reform rehabilitation regulations. One option under consideration was the creation of a specific rehabilitation licence. Today’s decision to extend mining licences, allegedly just so rehabilitation can take place, subverts the review process the bureaucrats already had underway and sends the wrong signal on Victoria’s place in the global energy transition.”

For interview and further comment

Mark Wakeham, Environment Victoria CEO
Mobile: 0439 700 501
m.wakeham@environmentvictoria.org.au

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