Ten New Adani Mines Worth of Coal Proposed for Upper Hunter

In the Upper Hunter Valley proposals for new coal projects have a combined output of 98 million tonnes per year, equivalent to ten new Adani-sized mines, according to new research from the Australia Institute.

Key Findings:

  • In the Upper Hunter Valley, proposals for new coal projects have a combined output of 98 million tonnes per year, equivalent to ten new Adani-sized mines.
  • In fact, the coal industry is currently proposing 23 new coal mines and mine extensions across all of NSW with a combined additional annual production of more than 155 million tonnes, equivalent to 15 new Adani-sized mines.
  • These proposals for major new coal mines in NSW, and in the Upper Hunter in particular, follow the doubling of production from 130 million tonnes in 2000 to 260 million tonnes in 2014. Governments and the coal industry expected this growth to continue, but NSW production peaked in 2014 and the boom is not coming back:
    • Existing coal mines are operating well below their approved capacity.
    • Plans to expand the export capacity of the Newcastle Port were scrapped in 2018, with the coal industry itself citing a lack of world demand for export coal.
    • Estimates of capacity required for the Hunter coal railways have been revised down.

“World demand for coal is falling, not rising. Trying to build 10 new Adani mines’ worth of coal mines in the Upper Hunter at precisely the time world demand for coal is falling is absurd,” said Dr Richard Denniss, chief economist at the Australia Institute.

“The NSW Government’s enthusiasm in approving a record number of coal mines does little more than offer false hope to the Hunter region, locking huge parts of the Hunter into the past while failing to plan for the future.

“New coal mine approvals destroys prime Australian farmland, which impacts current and future investment in Australia’s agriculture, wine, and tourism industries, leaving significant liabilities for the NSW Government and lasting scars on the Upper Hunter.

“What we need is a moratorium on the approval of new coal mines, so the NSW Government can look at all of the applications currently in train and develop a cohesive plan. At the moment there are more mines seeking approval than could ever be handled by the rail networks and the Port of Newcastle, let alone the world’s coal customers.”

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