8 February 2024
The Queensland Department of Environment and Science has today approved Whitehaven Coal’s Environmental Authority for their proposed Winchester South coal mine, taking this destructive greenfield coal project one step closer to approval.
The approval is not available online, stakeholders received verbal confirmation from the department that it has occurred yesterday (Wednesday February 7).
Winchester South is Australia’s biggest proposed new greenfield coal mine. Whitehaven Coal plans to mine up to 17 million tonnes of coal each year for 28 years, producing 583 million tonnes of CO2e emissions, more than Australia’s total annual emissions in 2022. Forty percent, around 7 million tonnes a year, of the coal from Winchester South will be thermal coal for electricity. The rest would be low quality PCI coal, which can also be sold into the thermal coal market, and metallurgical coal.
The project still requires Federal approval from Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek who is assessing the coal mine’s impacts on water and the planned destruction of habitat for endangered wildlife including koalas and greater gliders.
Whitehaven Coal has a long track record of breaking the law in NSW, having been fined for stealing 1 billion litres of water during one of the worst droughts at their Maules Creek coal mine, burying toxic tyres, and destroying Aboriginal cultural heritage amongst many other incidents. See the full list here
Imogen Lindenberg, Climate Campaigner at Mackay Conservation Group said:
“Winchester South would leave three giant craters that would drain ground water forever, clear the habitat of endangered koalas and greater gliders, and fuel devastating climate impacts like worse bushfires, floods, droughts, storms and heatwaves already ravaging communities around Queensland and the whole of Australia.
“The Queensland government’s greenlight for this proposed mega mine in the middle of the climate crisis is reckless in the extreme and flies in the face of the Queensland government’s recently beefed up emissions reduction targets. The Queensland government is undermining its own climate policies by approving massive new polluting coal mines. To reduce emissions we need to urgently phase out fossil fuels, not open new coal mines that will pollute for decades to come.”
“We now call on Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to refuse this project and not allow koala or glider habitat to be cleared for a climate-wrecking coal mine. Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has approved four new coal mines in the last year. This project is the ultimate test for the Albanese Labor Government on climate. If the Government is serious about climate action, they must stop approving new coal and gas projects, starting with Whitehaven Coal’s Winchester South coal project.”
“Australia’s national environmental laws do not even consider climate change and the damage to the climate caused by coal and gas mines. The Albanese Labor government’s reforms to national environmental laws must fix this problem and ensure the climate harm of new fossil fuel projects like Winchester South are assessed.”
Around half of the coal from Winchester South will be thermal coal for electricity and the other half would be low quality PCI coal, which can also be sold into the thermal coal market, and metallurgical coal.
The thermal coal component of the Winchester South mine (7 million tonnes per annum or 40%) will make it the largest proposed new thermal coal mine in Queensland and one of the biggest thermal coal producers in the state. (See page 2-55)
The International Energy Agency has said no new coal mines, including metallurgical coal mines, can go ahead for the world to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
No new coal mines or extensions of existing ones are needed in the NZE as coal demand declines precipitously. Demand for coking coal falls at a slightly slower rate than for steam coal, but existing sources of production are sufficient to cover demand through to 2050.
Contact Imogen Lindenberg 0477997392