Friday, 20 November 2009

Mining giants must pitch in to `keep the industry viable'

Courier Mail
Thursday 19/11/2009 Page: 17

IT IS time Australia's massively wealthy mining companies started to pay their way and an emissions trading scheme is probably the best way to do it - at least that is the view of some central Queensland mine workers. Despite claims from coal companies that an emissions trading scheme would lead to widespread job losses and the closure of several Queensland mines, their workers are supportive of the scheme as a way of keeping the industry alive and viable.

Peter Freeleagus, a boilermaker at the Peak Downs mine near Moranbah, said he could not see any way that jobs would be threatened. "Maybe some of the smaller speculative mines might have trouble, but if the ETS is so evil why are so many (mine development plans) going through?" he said. "Why are there 80 ships waiting off Mackay for coal? "There's (plans for) Daunia and Caval Ridge and Isaac Plains, and then there's Galilee. I don't think coal is going to disappear."

Mr Freeleagus said he had noticed one mine after another going out for approval in recent times. "The industry is still going to grow, but just under different parameters," he said. "From the coal miner to the CEO, we have to acknowledge that we have to do our bit." His claims that the mineral and energy industry is still booming and planning greater expansion despite the ETS is backed by figures from the Federal Government's Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics.

It found that last month the industry was planning to invest a record $112.5 billion on projects, an increase of 40% since April. Queensland accounted for about $9 billion of that, with the bulk of the rest being invested in the massive Gorgon LNG project in WA. Mr Freeleagus said a lot of the confusion in the community about the ETS was caused by the fact that the industry was still booming while companies complained about the potential to shut existing mines.

Saraji mine process technician and union leader Wayne Woodhouse said the coal companies were only putting a fraction of their profits to developing clean coal. "It's a drop in the bucket for them," Mr Woodhouse said. "Some of the big companies have posted profits up to $10 billion. Obviously they are not that worried about an ETS." He said a lot of miners considered the ETS to be "just a big bucket of money that the Government can get its hands on".