Conservative Premier attacks Green holy of holies -- wants to dig up more coal
Brown coal is a cheap source of energy. So Greenies hate it. It is currently the biggest source of elecricity generation in Germany. So there is nothing impractical about it. It has been supplying cheap electricity to Victoria for generations (forgive the pun). See the full horror of it above. Dredges just scoop the stuff up
FEDERAL Greens MP Adam Bandt has labelled Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu an "environmental vandal" for looking to expand brown coal mining in the Latrobe Valley.
Mr Bandt said he was "stunned" to hear the state would potentially expand brown coal mining for both domestic use and export and vowed the Greens would try and block the move federally. "The Premier, Ted Baillieu, is an environmental vandal and must be stopped," the Melbourne MP told reporters in Canberra. "I will be seeking advice as to what can be done federally to stop this environmental madness."
The Baillieu Government is planning to unlock vast resources of brown coal in the Latrobe Valley in a controversial plan to fire overseas power stations and bring the resources boom to Victoria.
Energy Minister Michael O'Brien yesterday confirmed the Coalition was seeking expressions of interest for new allocations of coal that were hoped to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties, as well as billions of dollars of investment in mines, processing and infrastructure.
But Mr Bandt said scientists had made it clear that economies needed to "decarbonise" by mid-century and governments should be supporting clean energy manufacturing industries. "Meanwhile, Ted Baillieu has got his foot on the accelerator in the other direction," he said. "Increasing use of brown coal in Victoria will ultimately be to the state's economic detriment."
But Mr O'Brien said the Baillieu Government was determined to make the most of one of the world's biggest deposits of brown coal. "The Government believes that brown coal can and should play a key role in our energy future," Mr O'Brien said.
"Encouraging new investors and the right technologies could deliver a new generation of industry in the Latrobe Valley, boosting the local economy and creating new jobs."
Victoria is sitting on an estimated 430 billion tonnes of brown coal, of which 33 billion tonnes could be unlocked from the Latrobe Valley.
But there are doubts about whether the technology needed to dry brown coal - which has a high water content - is advanced enough.
About 65 million tonnes of brown coal is mined in the Latrobe Valley for domestic use each year, but none is exported.
The Government yesterday said it would not speculate on how much additional coal it would allow to be mined until the outcome of the allocation tender process was completed.
But the Coalition claims interests from China, India and Japan are already lining up to buy the coal for low-emission activities including conversion to diesel oil and drying it for export. The new arrangements are not expected to affect allocations already in place, including coal for the Hazelwood power station.
Victorian Greens MP Greg Barber said exporting Victorian coal would lead to onshore and offshore environmental damage as well as driving up the price for domestic power stations.
He also raised doubts about how interested overseas markets were in brown coal, which would be difficult to transport and provides less energy than black coal.
"Whether the pollution is in another country or Australia, it is doing great damage to the environment and it is quite likely to push up our own power prices in the process," he said. "If they are exporting it dry there will be huge emissions in Victoria - just associated with getting it ready for export."
Environment Victoria spokesman Mark Wakeham said the Government had "failed to grasp the problem of climate change". "It seems that the Government refuses to accept that coal causes climate change because if they accepted that they wouldn’t be taking this course of action," he said.
"They're clearly not interested in a clean energy future and it looks like they're doing the mining companies' dirty work for them by running a PR campaign for the coal industry."
Mr Wakeham said mining companies could be behind the push for exporting coal. "The 13 billion tones that are yet to be allocated in the Latrobe Valley would be equivalent of 100 years of Victoria’s current greenhouse pollution," he said.
- Brown coal is soft brown fossil fuel used in steam-electric power generation;
- It has a low energy content and is high in moisture, which makes it difficult to transport over long distances;
- Its low levels of ash, sulphur, heavy metals and nitrogen, mean it's lower in impurities than other fossil fuels; [GREEN!]
- It is highly volatile, making it easier to convert into gas and liquid petroleum;
- Victoria has one of the world's largest deposits of brown coal;
- Each year 65 million tonnes are mined from the Latrobe Valley for domestic use;
- More than 80 per cent of Victoria's 430 billion tonne brown coal deposit is located in the Gippsland Basin;
- None of Victoria's coal is currently exported, but groups in China, India and Japan have expressed interest.