China Stone and Range mines lapsed: What does this mean?

Greetings Coal Trackers!

This update brings good news and bad news.

First the good news. Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has declared lapsed two new coal mines! Good job, Minister!

The China Stone mine was a massive proposal that had the capacity to cause almost 5 billion tonnes of climate pollution, equivalent to running a coal fired power station for over 700 years! So long, China Stone, it’s been 11 years and it’s time for you to go.

The Range was smaller, with a mere 341 million tonnes of lifetime emissions, 49 years worth of running an average power station. Now for the bad news. Both of those mines were zombie mines that had been stalled or abandoned for years. Neither was likely to start digging any time soon.

Not only had they been shelved by their owners, but China Stone and The Range didn’t have their paperwork in order, as reported today:

“In July 2020, the proponents of both mines indicated in writing that they wished to progress with their project and they intended to submit the additional information that has been requested,” Ms Plibersek’s office said.

“Three years later, neither has done so.”

This is why these mines were “declared lapsed”, because they hadn’t provided some additional paperwork. They were not refused because their climate impacts will cause unacceptable harm.

This is important because Minister Plibersek has been asked to reconsider China Stone, The Range and 14 other fossil fuel projects because of their climate impacts. By cancelling two mines today for administrative reasons rather than climate impacts, it gives the impression that the minister is trying to minimise the number of projects she has to reconsider on climate grounds.

If you’re about to approve 14 fossil fuel projects, saying that you’re OK with their climate impacts, it is much better to first build up a tough-on-coal reputation by slaying a few zombies.

Stay tuned to Coal Mine Tracker for the much harder decisions to come!