Adani’s automated mine risks just transition for coal workers

The best way to protect coal jobs in existing mines is to stop the construction of new, highly automated coal mines in the Galilee Basin according to new research by The Australia Institute.

The Institute’s report estimates that development of the Galilee Basin would reduce coal mining jobs by 9,000 in the Hunter Valley (NSW), 2,000 in the Bowen Basin (QLD) and 1,400 in the Surat Basin (QLD), compared to a scenario with no Galilee mines out to 2035. 

“If Australia wants a just transition for our coal workers then the worst thing we can do is to open up new mines that proponents plan to automate ‘from pit to port’,” said Rod Campbell, Director of Research at The Australia Institute.

“Put simply, new mines, in new coal basins, destroy jobs in existing coal regions.

“Building new coal mines in the Galilee Basin would reduce the overall coal workforce by between 2,680 and 5,800 mine workers in the coming decades.

“With flat world demand for coal, every new coal mine opened in new coal regions like the Galilee simply reduces production in existing coal regions like the Hunter Valley, Bowen Basin and Surat Basin. This will lead to the closure of some mines and layoffs in others. 

“Existing coal regions like the Hunter Valley and Bowen Basin can continue to employ significant numbers of coal miners for some years, even as the world moves away from coal. But if governments are determined to subsidise automated new mines into new coal regions they will hasten the demise of existing coal jobs.

“NSW and Queensland Governments need to plan how to transition their coal workers in the Hunter, Bowen and Surat Basins into other industries.

“This transition to new industries and new jobs will be harder for these regions and workers if the Galilee Basin is developed.

“The first priority for NSW and Queensland Governments in planning a just transition should be to ensure the Galilee Basin mines do not go ahead.

“NSW and Queensland Governments should be making it clear to Canberra that subsidising Galilee Basin development via NAIF, Efic or other export credit agencies, makes planning for a just transition much harder.”

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