New South Wales is prioritising coal projects and intends to keep the industry moving in the long-term, a new report said.
NSW Resources and Geoscience has described coal mining as a vital sector and promised activity will continue for decades to come.
Decades of work
“Coal mining is an important industry for NSW, and will continue to be so for the next few decades,” State Deputy Premier John Barilaro said in the Strategic Statement on Coal Exploration and Mining in NSW Report.
“It is particularly important for our regional economies, who have recently suffered a series of blows from drought, bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The report outlines regulatory policies for coal exploration and mining in the Premier State that support investment certainty and regional communities that need to manage any future decline in coal mining activity such as the Hunter region.
“Some developing countries in South East Asia and elsewhere are likely to increase their demand for thermal coal as they seek to provide access to electricity for their citizens,” the report said.
“Under some scenarios, this could see the global demand for thermal coal sustained for the next two decades or more. The use of coal in the manufacture of steel (coking coal) is likely to be sustained longer as there are currently limited practical substitutes available.”
More local jobs
Barilaro confirmed the State Government will help mining towns expand the type of available projects and create more local jobs.
“We will work to support coal-dependent communities to diversify for the future, ensuring they remain vibrant places to live with good employment opportunities,” he said.
The report estimates the industry employs more than 22,000 direct workers plus a further 89,000 indirect staff. The sector generated about 80 per cent of the state’s electricity and roughly $2 billion in royalties during the 2019 financial year.
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The government does not believe shutting down the coal industry would significantly reduce worldwide carbon emissions.
“Ending or reducing NSW thermal coal exports, while there is still strong long-term global demand, would likely have little or no impact on global carbon emissions,” the report said.