Two arrested after Qld coal mine protest


Two activists have been arrested after locking themselves to coal loading machinery at Abbot Point in a protest against the Carmichael coalmine in central Queensland.

Frontline Action on Coal activists Jeanette Kemp and Rupert Russell locked themselves to the equipment at the port, “effectively stopping the coal conveyor belts from operating”, about 7.15am AEST on Thursday.

Queensland police told AAP the pair were taken into custody about 9am.

Ms Kemp says she was protesting against the $2 billion mine being built by Indian-owned Bravus, formerly known as Adani Australia.

“I know a fair bit of that country where the mine is and got to know the vegetation through my work as an ecologist. It’s just crazy to me that we’re going to dig up this whole area,” she said in a statement.

“There are too many mines that are damaging our land and I just don’t want to see Queensland go that way.”

Mr Russell said he was lucky to be able to protest because he was a retiree and did not have to worry about his job.

Ms Kemp was worried about her job but said her protest was more important than her reputation.

“It just shows people that anyone can do this, just take time off work – it all contributes and makes people stand up and notice,” she said.

Earlier, Bravus chief executive David Boshoff said 2000 people were already working on the project, with $1.5 billion on contracts awarded to local businesses.

He said blasting had started at the mine site and work on the coal-handling and processing plant had also begun.

“Now we have reached rock we have begun to use controlled blasts to break it up so the excavators and trucks can move it. This means coal production is one step closer to being a reality,” Mr Boshoff said.

Bravus expects the mine’s first coal to be produced in 2021.



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China claims ‘quality’ problem with Australian coal as $700 million worth sits idle off ports


China has suggested almost $700 million worth of Australian coal is being held up at ports due to “environmental quality” problems.

For months, dozens of bulk carriers have been stranded off the coast of two major Chinese ports unable to unload their cargoes, with a Bloomberg estimate of more than 60 ships now in limbo in November.

Chinese authorities have not previously explained the exact reasons for the long delays, which have coincided with a series of restrictions and bans Beijing has imposed on other Australian exports amid diplomatic tensions.

But in answer to a question on Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has for the first time suggested quality problems are to blame.

China has unofficially banned Australian coal imports since October amid souring relations between the two countries, and in turn, increased imports from Mongolia and Russia.

Mr Zhao said China had strengthened the examination and testing of imported coal regarding safety, quality and environmental standards “so as to better protect the legitimate interests and the environmental interests of the Chinese side”.

Coal is one of seven Australian imported products that have reportedly been targeted with bans by China amid rising tensions.

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Scott Morrison has called for “room to breathe” in the US-China relationship.

Earlier this month, multiple Australian exporters said that their Chinese business partners had been informally instructed by Commerce ministry officials to stop buying seven types of Australian exports, including coal.

But many of the bulk carriers sitting off the Chinese ports arrived with their Australian cargo prior to those instructions being given.

China’s Government has stopped short of directly linking the various trade measures with its anger at Australia but has made little effort to dispel the widely-held view that its retaliation for a series of Australian moves Beijing objects to, including a public call for a coronavirus inquiry.

The Federal Government last week said the reports were “deeply troubling” but China has denied it is levying coordinated trade action against Australia.

China accounts for about one-third of Australia’s total exports.

The stalled shipments account for about a quarter of all imports waiting to pass customs clearance in China.

China’s coking coal imports from Australia slumped in October to 1.53 million tonnes, or about 26 per cent of its total imports of the fuel, customs data showed, down from 78 per cent in March.

Despite the bans, Australia remains China’s top seaborne coal supplier in 2020, as Mongolia was forced to trim exports in the first half of the year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

ABC/Reuters



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China says coal imports failed environment standards amid stalled Australian shipments


Zhao said China had strengthened the examination and testing of imported coal regarding safety, quality and environmental standards “so as to better protect the legitimate interests and the environmental interests of the Chinese side”.

Coal is one of seven Australian imported products that have reportedly been targeted with bans by China amid rising tensions between the countries.

Australia last week said the reports were “deeply troubling” but China has denied it is levying co-ordinated trade action against Australia. China accounts for about one third of Australia’s total exports.

Traders and analysts estimate up to 7 million tonnes of Australian coal are sitting at the Jingtang and Caofeidian ports, both part of a major coal transporting hub in northern China.

The stalled shipments account for about a quarter of all imports waiting to pass customs clearance in China.

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“The ban on Australian coal is fully a result of political tensions, not because of economic reasons,” Sarah Liu, vice president of consultancy Techno-Power Eco-Energy, said at an industrial conference earlier on Wednesday.

China’s coking coal imports from Australia slumped in October to 1.53 million tonnes, or about 26 per cent of its total imports of the fuel, customs data showed on Wednesday, down from 78 per cent in March.

Despite the bans, Australia remains China’s top seaborne coal supplier in 2020, as Mongolia was forced to trim exports in the first half of the year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Reuters



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Teck Provides Steelmaking Coal Market Update


VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Nov. 23, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Teck Resources Limited (TSX: TECK.A and TECK.B, NYSE: TECK) (“Teck”) today announced that it has increased its steelmaking coal sales to China for the fourth quarter of 2020 in response to increased demand. These sales have been at higher pricing levels compared to markets outside China. Estimated total fourth quarter sales remain within Teck’s existing guidance of 5.8-6.2Mt, with approximately 20% of these sales now to Chinese customers.

Pricing in China for Teck’s steelmaking coal started to increase around the middle of the current quarter when a large portion of our overall sales were already concluded. Additional spot sales to China were concluded gradually as the price was rising and achieved an average premium in excess of US$35 per tonne above Australian FOB spot pricing at the time each sale was concluded. Our contract sales to Chinese customers are also priced on the basis of CFR China price assessments. The most recent three cargos were sold at prices between US$160/tonne and US$165/tonne CFR China. In a declining coal price environment, our realized coal price relative to benchmark would normally be lower than the long term average of 92%. As a result of these recent sales at premium prices, however, we are estimating that our Q4 realized price will reflect that long term average of approximately 92% despite the price drop for markets outside China where the majority of Teck’s steelmaking coal is sold.

We have had detailed discussions with customers regarding 2021 sales and are restructuring our sales book to target 2021 sales to China of approximately 7.5 million tonnes. We caution that these sales are subject to a range of risks including general market and economic conditions, general and specific port restrictions, Chinese regulation and policies, and normal production and operating risks. We aim to sell these tonnes at CFR China pricing which currently reflects a premium to Australian FOB spot pricing of approximately US$50/tonne.

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release contains certain forward-looking information and forward-looking statements as defined in applicable securities laws (collectively referred to as forward-looking statements). These statements relate to future events or our future performance. All statements other than statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements. The use of any of the words “anticipate”, “plan”, “continue”, “estimate”, “expect”, “may”, “will”, “project”, “predict”, “potential”, “should”, “believe” and similar expressions is intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking statements. These statements speak only as of the date of this news release.

These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding Teck’s coal sales to China and elsewhere in the fourth quarter of 2020 and in 2021, and the pricing of those sales. These statements are based on assumptions regarding Teck’s coal production, demand for steelmaking coal in various markets, general economic conditions and conditions in commodities markets, and import restrictions or other regulatory measures affecting Teck’s coal sales and coal sales from other jurisdictions. The foregoing list of assumptions is not exhaustive. Events or circumstances could cause actual results to vary materially.

Factors that may cause actual results to vary materially include, but are not limited to, acts of governments, including  changes in import restrictions or other regulatory actions, changes in coal markets or general economic conditions, unanticipated operational difficulties (including failure of plant, equipment or processes to operate in accordance with specifications or expectations, cost escalation, unavailability of materials and equipment, government action or delays in the receipt of government approvals, industrial disturbances or other job action, adverse weather conditions and unanticipated events related to health, safety and environmental matters), union labour disputes, impact of COVID-19 mitigation protocols, political risk, social unrest. The forward-looking statements in this news release and actual results will also be impacted by the effects of COVID-19 and related matters.

We assume no obligation to update forward-looking statements except as required under securities laws. Further information concerning risks and uncertainties associated with these forward-looking statements and our business can be found in our Annual Information Form for the year ended December 31, 2019, filed under our profile on SEDAR (www.sedar.com) and on EDGAR (www.sec.gov) under cover of Form 40-F, as well as subsequent filings that can also be found under our profile.

About Teck
Teck is a diversified resource company committed to responsible mining and mineral development with major business units focused on copper, steelmaking coal and zinc, as well as investments in energy assets. Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, its shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbols TECK.A and TECK.B and the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol TECK. Learn more about Teck at www.teck.com or follow @TeckResources.

Investor Contact:
Fraser Phillips
Senior Vice President, Investor Relations & Strategic Analysis
604.699.4621
fraser.phillips@teck.com

Media Contact:
Chris Stannell
Public Relations Manager
604.699.4368
chris.stannell@teck.com

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Coal is dead. It’s time for Labor’s denialists to accept it.


As Labor lays itself bare over coal, the industry itself is dying before our eyes and the biggest companies want out before they’re left with the bill.

Labor Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

This week should have been a target-rich environment for Labor.

There was the government’s reluctance to say anything about Trump’s attempted coup.

There was Four Corners‘ exposure of Alan Tudge and Christian Porter, and David Crowe’s revelation of Rachelle Miller’s complaints about Tudge and Michaelia Cash.

Keep reading about the death of coal.

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Coal handling at Mormugao Port Trust to be reduced: Goa CM


The CM ruled out allegations of compromising on the environment by approving projects like the expansion of a national highway

Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Sunday said the coal handling at the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) would be reduced by more than 50 per cent by introducing alternative tourism projects including launching of a RORO (Roll On Roll Off) ferry service.

Speaking to reporters, he ruled out allegtions of compromising on the environment by approving projects like the expansion of a national highway and double-tracking of a railway line.

 

Several NGOs and Opposition parties have launched protests against laying of a transmission line through the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and the National Park at Mollem fearing that it would destroy the ecology.

“Handling of coal at the MPT will be reduced by more than 50 per cent by introducing several other alternative tourism projects.

“The Union Shipping Minister will be coming to Goa next one month. We are introducing the Roll-on-RollOff (RORO) ferry from MPT to Fort Aguadaand Old Goa (North Goa),” the chief minister said.

He said the state government has introduced solar power policy by providing 50 per cent subsidy for setting up solar power generation units.

 

“However, only 29 Goans have availed it so far,” he lamented.

He appealed to all 40 MLAs in the state to set up solar power generation units at their residences.

“Power Minister Nilesh Cabral has already set up an example. I am also installing a solar power generation unit on the rooftop of my house. I want other MLAs too to join the initiative,” the CM said.

Sawant also announced his government’s intent to convert rooftops of various buildings owned by it into solar power generation spots on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis.

“Street lights are also being converted to make them compatible to run on solar power to reduce the consumption of power,” he added.

 

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AustralianSuper dumps Whitehaven Coal, commits to net zero by 2050


Mr Gray said the thermal coal industry relies on the development of carbon capture technology, but slow advances in this space, combined with global trends away from thermal coal as an energy source had made these companies a high-risk investment.

AustralianSuper confirmed that over the past six months it had sold out of Whitehaven coal, which operates four mines in the Gunnedah Basin of New South Wales. Mr Gray said the fund would now turn its lens to passive investments in the thermal coal industry, including South32, despite these being relatively minor.

“It’s about $160 million in a $180 billion fund, so it’s a very small dollar amount and not a significant investment risk,” he said. “Having said that, as part of this net zero by 2050 approach, we will examine how we can manage the holdings in the passive portfolio.”

‘Embracing net zero 2050’

AustralianSuper will use its new target to force companies to formalise plans to transition towards zero carbon operations, which will extend to scope three emissions – those from the supply chain – where possible.

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Net zero emissions means every tonne of greenhouse gas emitted must be matched by a tonne removed from the atmosphere through carbon sinks including forest plantations. Major Asian trading partners have recently set net zero targets, but the Australian federal government has refused to do so.

Mr Gray said the financial industry was “moving ahead” of governments on the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“Recent moves in policy by Japan, China, South Korea clearly shows where global policy makers are going,” he said. “They are embracing net zero 2050, that’s telling us there is a wholesale low carbon economic transition happening here.”

AustralianSuper joins a range of financial institutions including IFM Investors and ANZ Bank, who have recently formalised net zero targets. ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott told investors in October the decision to stop funding new thermal coal mines was not an ethical or moral decision, but an economic one.

‘Good investment practice’

AustralianSuper has been increasing its investments in international shares, mostly due to its size, but Mr Gray said climate concerns also informed the strategy to pivot away from the local sharemarket, which is dominated by high emitting industries.

“The size of our investment in international equities has been growing, and will continue to grow,” he said. “The primary driver of that is our size, it’s a scale issue, but it’s also true to say we integrate consideration of climate change issues.”

The financial industry has been criticised by the federal government, particularly Resources Minister Keith Pitt, for engaging in activism in the decision to move away from coal. However, Mr Gray said its net zero target was not part of a public policy campaign, but rather one focused on returns.

“At the end of the day for us, this is about good investment practice.”

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BlackRock accused of ‘hypocrisy’ over investment in NSW coal mine


“The proposed mine site sits at the centre of the most productive agricultural land in Australia, with significant ground and surface water which feeds the rich, black, vertisol soil and town water supplies.”

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Ms Lyle said the community had spent an “enormous amount of time, money and energy” researching the impacts of the mine, including funding research by Emeritus Professor Ian Acworth which found it would damage underground water resources.

“Institutions such as BlackRock must not just ‘talk the talk’ to exit fossil fuels, they must put pressure on this company and ‘walk the walk’ for the environment and a community who will be grossly impacted,” she wrote.

BlackRock has held two meetings with China Shenhua over the first six months of this year. Its records show these engagements dealt with issues including environment impact management, business oversight, risk management, governance and climate change.

BlackRock is China Shenhua’s second largest investor behind China Energy, a state-owned energy giant, according to recent annual reports. Its 1.36 per cent stake is passively held in index funds, but BlackRock maintains active engagement with its directors over environmental, social and governance issues. It would not comment on the outcome of the meetings, but these meetings are only recorded if the group feels “meaningful dialogue” was achieved.

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Indigenous group the Gomeroi people filed a lawsuit against federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley to protect the site, but this was thrown out in July. The 600-plus traditional owners have now lodged another appeal to the federal government with fresh information about the cultural heritage of the site in a last-ditch effort to stop the mine.

A spokesman for Minister Ley’s office said any new evidence would be considered and an independent reporter would be assigned to consult with all parties.

China Shenhua has yet to be granted a mining licence but has conditional approval from the NSW government.

Greens state MP Cate Faehrmann has been agitating for the mine to be blocked through NSW Parliament, but so far progress has stalled.

Ms Faehrmann said it was more important than ever for the private sector to escalate its efforts with the mining giant. “BlackRock needs to make sure these ancient grinding grooves aren’t destroyed by Shenhua,” she said. “I couldn’t put it more clearly than that.”

China Shenhua was contacted for comment.

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China Turns to Lobsters, Wine and Coal to ‘Punish’ Australia


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3 “Strong Buy” Stocks Poised for a Year-End Rally

Ahead of the U.S. presidential election results, the October jobs report and a Federal Reserve meeting, Wall Street is seeking to bounce back from the market’s worst week since March.Sure, plenty of uncertainty hangs in the balance, with investors worried that the election outcome will be contested. However, some Wall Street pros argue that even if there’s a post-election decline, it will likely be temporary. Then, after any panic or shock dissipates, the market could tick back up again. To this end, any weakness following the election could present investors with an opportunity to snap up compelling stocks at more attractive entry points.Bearing this in mind, we used TipRanks’ database to pinpoint three stocks that the analysts believe could soar at least 100% in the year ahead. Not to mention, all three boast a “Strong Buy” consensus rating.Orbcomm (ORBC)As one of the leading providers of industrial IoT and M2M solutions, Orbcomm helps its customers remotely track, monitor and control fixed and mobile assets. With shares trading at a 52-week high, Wall Street sees big things in store.Writing for Canaccord, 5-star analyst Michael Walkley was impressed with ORBC’s Q3 performance, given the uncertain macro environment. Revenue of $61.7 million beat the analyst’s estimate by 3%, and adjusted EBITDA came in at $14.3 million, easily exceeding his $12.9 million call. This result underscores “management’s ability to maintain costs as it achieved its cost savings program ahead of plan.”Its subscriber count of 2.1 million landed just below Walkley’s estimate of 2.2 million as the company added 40,000 net subscribers in the quarter but deactivated 90,000 non-revenue generating subscribers that were incurring costs as a result of platform integrations. “We are encouraged ORBCOMM is maintaining its subscriber base better than many of its peers who continue to struggle with higher churn levels during the pandemic,” he commented.It should be noted that ORBC remains committed to helping its customers transport food and medicine during these times, and thus, a significant portion of its recurring revenues are protected, according to Walkley.“With ORBC shares trading at roughly 4x EV/EBITDA for our introduced 2022 adjusted EBITDA estimate, we view the risk-reward as very positive… ORBCOMM is well positioned with its subscriber base to drive consistent adjusted EBITDA through its high-margin recurring revenue solutions,” Walkley explained.On top of this, the company has been improving its cost structure by reducing hardware SKUs from 160 to 40, moving to one ERP system from 13 and consolidating 25 web platforms down to 2, with its consolidated platforms potentially leading to “longer-term margin expansion,” in Walkley’s opinion.Going forward, as ORBC boasts over $76 million in cash, Walkley believes the company is “well positioned to consolidate market share and return to 10% organic revenue growth longer-term.” Once organic growth returns to 10%, management expects to generate 20% adjusted EBITDA growth, based on improving trends in transportation and a lineup of new products targeted toward the shipping industry.Summing it all up, Walkley stated, “We believe ORBCOMM’s improving balance sheet, strong cash flow from operations, and high margin recurring revenue base position the company well to endure an extended downturn.”As a result, Walkley stayed with the bulls. In addition to a Buy rating, he bumped up the price target from $8 to $9. Investors could be pocketing a gain of 100%, should this target be met in the twelve months ahead. (To watch Walkley’s track record, click here)Judging by the consensus breakdown, opinions are anything but mixed. With 3 Buys and no Holds or Sells assigned in the last three months, the word on the Street is that ORBC is a Strong Buy. At $7.67, the average price target implies 70% upside potential. (See ORBC stock analysis on TipRanks)Aerie Pharmaceuticals (AERI)Next up we have Aerie Pharmaceuticals, which is an ophthalmic pharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of first-in-class therapies for the treatment of patients with glaucoma, retinal diseases and other diseases of the eye. Shares have slumped 55% year-to-date, but a new deal could be a game changer, according to some members of the Street.On October 28, AERI and Santen Pharmaceutical revealed they reached an exclusive agreement granting Santen the commercial and development rights to Rhopressa, its therapy for the reduction of intraocular pressure (IOP) in patients with open-angle glaucoma (OAG) or ocular hypertension (OHT), and Rocklatan, the first and only fixed-dose combination of a prostaglandin plus ROCK inhibitor designed to reduce IOP, in Japan and eight other countries in Asia.As per the terms of the agreement, AERI will receive an upfront cash payment of $50 million, and is eligible for an additional $99 million in development and sales milestone payments, as well as sales royalties in excess of 25%. Additionally, the two companies will collaborate on the first Japanese Phase 3 Rhopressa trial, which is expected to kick off in Q4 2020. After this, Santen will be responsible for all of the development and commercial costs.Weighing in for Mizuho Securities, analyst Difei Yang commented, “We are encouraged by the Japan and East Asia (ex-China) licensing deal for Rhopressa and Rocklatan announced by Aerie and Santen Pharmaceuticals.” The analyst points out that based on the approval history of Rhopressa and Rocklatan to-date, the development milestone seems “particularly lower risk.”What’s more, Yang argues that Rhopressa and Rocklatan’s mechanism of action makes the therapies stand-outs in the glaucoma space, with the “terms of the deal underscore the potential global value of Aerie’s glaucoma franchise.” The analyst also thinks the deal helps Aerie maintain capital flexibility.Yang added, “We believe that the selection of Santen Pharmaceuticals as a commercial partner should help with the commercial launch in the aforementioned regions. Santen is a sizable (FY20 revenue: $2.2 billion) ophthalmology company that operates in Japan, East Asia, China and Europe.”It should come as no surprise, then, that Yang left a Buy rating and $27 price target on the stock. What’s in it for investors? Upside potential of 150%. (To watch Yang’s track record, click here)In general, other analysts echo Yang’s sentiment. 10 Buys, 1 Hold and 1 Sell add up to a Strong Buy consensus rating. With an average price target of $26.91, the upside potential comes in at 147%. (See AERI stock analysis on TipRanks)Soliton (SOLY)Through its Rapid Acoustic Pulse (RAP) device that uses acoustic shockwaves, Soliton speeds up the tattoo removal process and helps clients remove cellulite. While shares have struggled in 2020, the Street believes the tides are turning.It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic weighed on the aesthetic device space, as non-essential procedures were halted and hospitals shut their doors to sales representatives. However, Maxim analyst Anthony Vendetti notes that the market is rebounding more quickly than he originally thought it would, and thus, he expects the aesthetic industry “to come out of the pandemic leaner and poised for growth.”Looking specifically at Soliton, Vendetti told clients, “We believe SOLY’s RAP device is a superior adjunct technology that can tap into both the multi-billion dollar tattoo removal and cellulite reduction markets.”SOLY is gearing up for the commercialization of its RAP device, which was delayed due to COVID-19. This commercialization includes a collaboration with Sanmina Corporation, a large contract manufacturer for the production of the RAP device, entering into a distribution and sales agreement with Aesthetic Solutions to distribute the RAP device during the initial U.S. launch and hiring a public relations and marketing firm.Adding to the good news, SOLY’s 510(k) filing for the cellulite indication was accepted by the FDA and is now under substantive review. To this end, Vendetti believes clearance will come by Q1 2021, although it could possibly come before the end of 2020, followed by a limited rollout to 20-25 KOLs in 2021 for both the tattoo and cellulite indications, assuming the latter is approved. “Following feedback from the KOLs, we expect a full commercial launch in 2022,” he noted.Given that SOLY is pre-revenue, Vendetti thinks the key areas to pay attention to are how the company will manage its cash burn, any updates on the 510(k) application for the RAP device’s cellulite indication and commercialization preparation for the limited launch of the RAP device.The strong growth potential of the RAP device in multiple markets prompted Vendetti to reiterate a Buy rating and $22 price target, suggesting 205% upside potential. (To watch Vendetti’s track record, click here)Are other analysts in agreement? They are. Only Buy ratings have been issued in the last three months. Therefore, the message is clear: SOLY is a Strong Buy. Based on the $16 average price target, shares could soar 123% in the next year. (See SOLY stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.



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Dartbrook underground coal mine in NSW Upper Hunter set to reopen after agreement reached


The Independent Planning Commission (IPC) has paved the way for the revival of a mothballed underground coal mine in the New South Wales Hunter Valley for the first time since 2006.

Australian Pacific Coal (AQC) and the IPC reached an agreement in the Land and Environment Court over a development application to resume operations at the Dartbrook mine near Aberdeen.

The company hailed the decision as a “significant milestone” for the recommencement of mining.

But environmental group Lock the Gate has criticised it as “a short-term grab-the-coal and run”.

The mine has been in a care and maintenance phase since 2006, but AQC has moved to restart operations after it purchased the property in 2016.

A development application to mine 6 million tonnes of coal a year through to 2027 was refused by the IPC last year, but AQC immediately appealed in the Land and Environment Court.

The company lodged a 14-page response after the IPC took issue with the detail of the proposal.

The IPC had previously expressed concern about the social impact of resuming operations in an area now dominated by agriculture and the equine industry.

Environmental impacts were also considered, but the company claimed a switch to bord-and-pillar mining would minimise impacts on groundwater.

The Dartbrook coal mine ceased operations in 2006 after three fatalities at the underground mine.(ABC Upper Hunter: Eliza Goetze)

Focus should be outside of coal: environmentalist

Environmental groups painted yesterday’s agreement as a setback in the Upper Hunter region’s push towards a more diverse, post-coal economy.

“The planning system is still putting off the very important, and increasingly urgent job of giving the Hunter new industry outside of coal mining,” said Georgina Woods from the Lock the Gate Alliance.

“It is only proposed to continue for seven years and so it’s not a long-term development that’s going to provide for sustainable employment and growth and prosperity for the Upper Hunter into the future.”

But Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) district president Peter Jordan has championed the agreement as a win for the region.

“It just means jobs, jobs and jobs and who would not want jobs in the area?” he said.

Kirsty O’Connell from Friends of the Upper Hunter said the decision flew in the face of community sentiment.

“We had 1,300 objections last year, the single biggest reaction against a brownfield mining proposal in NSW history,” she said.

The Minerals Council has been contacted for comment.

The Land and Environment Court is expected to finalise its decision later this month.



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