Victorian government: Full steam ahead to dig up more coal

Kelly O’Shanassy from Environment Victoria warns against the plans of the Victorian Government to dig up 13 billion tonnes of the most emissions-intensive coal to be burnt overseas. She calls it a “state-subsidised invasion by the coal industry”.


“These export plans will be a nightmare for regional and coastal families, a nightmare for our natural environment, and sadly it will be a climate nightmare for you and me,” Kelly O’Shanassy wrote in an e-mail on 29 August 2013:

“In the last few months the whole story of the Napthine Government’s plan for a massive brown coal export industry has started to emerge showing the full extent of the damage. The state government is secretly negotiating to trade away Victoria’s future in a shameless deal that would devastate our environment and Victorian communities. The best time for us to stop this is now as it will be decided in a matter of months.

They’re moving full steam ahead, trying to secure partners in this environmental crime that will complete stage one of these coal export plans. And they’re luring them in with $90 million1 of taxpayer funds, to help kick-start the pillaging and plundering of that which you and I hold dear!

It comes as no surprise that the Napthine Government’s recent actions to find on or offshore investors are shrouded in secrecy2. These export plans will be a nightmare for regional and coastal families, a nightmare for our natural environment, and sadly it will be a climate nightmare for you and me.

The decision on stage one of this plan is only a few months away. I urgently need your help today because there isn’t a second to lose. 

» You can make a donation here to stop this nightmare using a secure online form.


“State-subsidised invasion by the coal industry”
13 billion tonnes of the most emissions-intensive coal, much worse than black coal, could be dug up and burnt overseas. This is equivalent to 13 additional massive brown coal mines each the size of the Hazelwood mine.

Farms will be taken from families across Gippsland — land that has been theirs for generations. Others will lose their homes and livelihoods.

Our chance at a clean energy economy for Victoria and the thousands of jobs that go with it will go up in smoke, along with enough carbon dioxide to blow out the global carbon budget essential for a safe climate.

With absolute disregard for their significance, beauty and sheer right to exist, our natural places will be caught in the crossfire including the Strzelecki Ranges and the spectacular Gippsland Lakes.

And it appears that nothing is sacred anymore. Plans are on the table to turn Corner Inlet, one of Victoria’s most pristine marine wonderlands and holiday hotspot, neighbouring Wilsons Promontory, into a major industrial port and dredge its peaceful bay to fit enormous coal freighters.

Last, but certainly not least it will be you and I who foot the bill for the billions of dollars needed to create the major new freight infrastructure, and the cash handouts. Already $110 million to industrialise Western Port, home to Phillip Island’s beloved fairy penguin colonies, was committed in May’s state budget and $2 million has been given to start industrialising Corner Inlet.


It’s really that big. This is what we’re fighting. This red carpet treatment for these planet-destroying polluters is a disgrace.

With so much at stake it’s so important for you to help. You and I are the only thing that stands in their way.

We must work fast to combat the state government’s determination and use this time to change the course of Victoria’s future while we still have the chance.

Whilst I can’t explain why our state government would move forward with polluting brown coal exports given today’s climate woes and clean energy opportunities, with your help I can do my best to stop it.

Thankfully, there is a solution. Please help by funding this solution today.”


(1.) The Victorian and Commonwealth governments have allocated AUS$90 million to the Advanced Lignite Demonstration Program to support new coal developments in Victoria

(2.) Tom Arup, August 7 2013, ‘China powers ahead in hidden tender for brown coal millions’, The Age, page 3



Why exporting brown coal is a bad idea

The following is written by Environment Victoria:

Successive Victorian Governments have eyed Victoria’s brown coal resources and seen a bonanza in waiting. With the world’s second largest brown coal deposit, and an estimated resource of 430 billion tonnes, it’s perhaps not surprising governments see dollar signs and forget about the local and global impacts of new mines.

The last time coal was allocated in Victoria was in 2002, when three companies received a total of 17 billion tonnes to build so-called ‘clean coal’ projects. None of these projects materialised and the allocation was a complete flop. And yet the Victorian Government now wants to do it all over again. The map below shows the land up for grabs this time round.

In August 2012 the Victorian and Federal Governments committed AUS$45 million each to support new polluting brown coal projects in Victoria, including those associated with a new brown coal export industry to ship polluting brown coal to the developing world.


Why it doesn’t add up for the environment
If the Victorian Government proceeds with its reckless coal allocation plans by mid 2013, 41 billion tonnes of Victorian coal will have been allocated, which if burnt in conventional power stations would produce emissions equivalent to:

  • 333 years’ worth of Victoria’s emissions
  • 73 years’ worth of Australia’s annual emissions
  • 25 years’ worth of India’s emissions
  • 8 years’ worth of the US’s emissions
  • 5 years’ worth of China’s emissions

And that’s just Latrobe Valley coal! It doesn’t include coal reserves being explored near Bacchus Marsh or throughout Gippsland beyond the Latrobe Valley.

This is a big deal. What happens to Victoria’s coal reserve will have a serious impact on global emissions and climate change. That’s why we need to keep it in the ground.



Why it doesn’t stack up economically
Apart from the shocking environmental impacts, the failure of past allocations and new economic research has shown that the allocation is not economically viable either. A report commissioned by Environment Victoria ‘Undermined or overburdened? Victoria’s brown coal: an economic perspective’ found that three factors prevent the development of viable new coal projects:

• low quality and high moisture of Victoria’s coal resource,

• the need to process brown coal to higher grades, and

• the transport costs of getting Victorian coal to Asian markets

Already the Victorian Government have delayed the allocation once. We know that the plan is environmentally and economically irresponsible. The Latrobe Valley and Gippsland needs a regional development and transition plan that is based on real jobs and industries, not phantom ones.




» Report: ‘Undermined or overburdened? Victoria’s brown coal: an economic perspective’

» Environment Victoria’s media release: On the allocation delay

» Brochure: ‘More coal mines for the Valley?’ (PDF)