Culture

How TF Is Australia Still Opening New Coal Mines?

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A new coal mine development has been approved by the Federal Government, just weeks before the global climate COP26 summit in Glasgow.

It’s the third mine that’s been approved in the last month, and it totally ignores continuous calls for the Morrison Government to commit to net zero emissions and take the climate crisis seriously.

What Has The Government Granted Exactly?

The government’s tick of approval means that the mining giant Glencore can expand its Mangoola mine, in the Upper Hunter region of NSW.

The expansion includes creating a whole new coal pit near the existing mine, over roughly 623 hectares, and extracting an additional 52 million tonnes of fossil fuels over eight years.

The federal approval does include conditions though, which will require Glencore to monitor local water and offset the destruction of any habitats used by critically endangered species in the area.

‘Minister Against The Environment’

The mine was approved by Environment Minister Sussan Ley, who’s been dubbed the ‘minister against the environment’ because this isn’t the first coal mine she’s given the green light.

In September, she granted the expansion of an existing underground coal mine north of Wollongong, which is set to extract approximately 3.7 million tonnes of extra coal over five years.

Ley also approved another coal mine, the Vickery Extension Project, north of Gunnedah.

Both of these approvals came just a few months after the Federal Court ruled that the Environment Minister had a duty of care to consider the potential harms to young people from climate change.

The landmark ruling is known as the Sharma case. It was successfully launched by eight teenagers last year, and Ley has already lodged an appeal to revoke it.

How Do People Feel About The New Coal Mine?

ScoMo has made it pretty clear that he wants Australia’s mining industry to continue.

Ley said the development of the Mangoola mine wouldn’t cause harm to human safety, and that the mine won’t “necessarily result in an increase of global greenhouse gases”.

But according to experts, the Gunnedah mine extension alone could create an extra 100 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gasses to the lifetime of the mine.

Which does, in fact, increase the risk of ‘catastrophic’ harm for young people in the future.

The whole thing has outraged many people, particularly locals and farmers who are being forced off the land to make way for the expansions.

Georgina Wood from the anti-mining group Lock the Gate Alliance told The Guardian that the latest coal mine expansion was actually opposed by the local council and landholders.

While the rest of the world prepares for the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Wood said that she finds it alarming to witness Australia “digging itself deeper” and “refusing to take climate change and rural sustainability seriously”.

There have even been murmurs that Morrison isn’t planning on joining other global leaders at COP26 because it would require him to undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine for the fourth time this year.