Anglesea mine

From Global Energy Monitor

The Anglesea mine is a retired open cut coal mine in Anglesea Heath in Victoria, south-eastern Australia.[1]


Location

The map below shows the exact location of the Anglesea mine in Victoria, south-eastern Australia.

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Project Details

  • Sponsor:
  • Parent Company: Alcoa [2]
  • Location: 41 kilometers southwest of Geelong, and north of the town of Anglesea [2]
  • GPS Coordinates: 144.1699617, -38.39175093 (exact)
  • Status: Retired in 2015
  • Production Capacity: 1.1 million tonnes[2]
  • Total Resource:
  • Mineable Reserves: 120 million tonnes [3]
  • Coal type: Lignite [2]
  • Mine Size: 7097 hectares [2]
  • Mine Type: Open cut [2]
  • Start Year: 1969 [2]
  • Source of Financing:

Background

During its 50 years of operation by Alcoa of Australia, the Anglesea mine produced 1 million tonnes of coal annually, which was supplied to the nearby Anglesea power station.In February 2014, Alcoa announced that they intended to close the aluminum smelter to which the Anglesea power station supplied power by August 2014. In the announcement, the company stated that the Anglesea coal mine and power station have "the potential to operate as a stand-alone facility after the smelter closes. Alcoa of Australia will actively seek a buyer for the facility."[4] However, in May 2015 Alcoa said it planned to close the mine and power station.[5]

Since the coal mine closed in 2015, Alcoa has worked with community members and the Eden Project, a U.K.-based environmental and educational charity, to develop a plan to turn the site into an eco-tourism destination. [6]

Criticisms of Anglesea mine

Opponents of the Anglesea mine note that the mine and coal-fired power station is located less than 1.5 kilometres from homes and a school. In 2011, Dr Eugenie Kayak, who was part of the group Doctors for the Environment Australia, wrote to The Age that air pollutants emitted from the power station — such as sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter — can impact human health.[7]

In 2014, 300 anti-Anglesea protestors spelled out "Shut it down" on Anglesea Beach in an attempt to stop the the coal mine and accompanying power station from operating.[8] The group coordinating the movement, Surf Coast Air Action, was circulating a petition at the time that called for the Victorian Government to block the planned sale of the Anglesea coal mine and power station by reviewing the decision to grant Alcoa a license to feed power into the Victorian grid.[9] The group's main concern with the power plant and the accompanying mine was the emission of pollutants such as sulphur dioxide.

Alcoa pushes for lease renewal

With the lease for the mine expiring at the end of 2011, Alcoa of Australia has indicated that it will seek a further extension of the lease. In early March 2011, Greens member in the Upper House of Victorian State Parliament Greg Barber asked the Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, whether the "the Minister for Energy and Resources has requested his advice as to whether an environmental impact statement is required, whether he has formed the view that one is required, whether the proponents have approached him and what his determination is." In response, Guy stated that "a view has not been formed on that matter to date." In a supplementary comment Barber asked "which aspects of the ministerial guidelines on environmental impact assessments he believes this project or this decision may engage?". Once more, Guy was non-committal stating only that "in making my decision we will outline the reasons for that after the event rather than subjectively commenting on them before they have been set aside."[10]

Alcoa spokesman, Brendan Foran, told the Australian Financial Review that while it could have simply extended its existing licence, it had opted to negotiate new terms. "We are not obliged to change anything in the arrangement but we will", he said. Foran argued that the Anglesea mine, power station, smelter and rolling plant should be viewed as a single operation. "Point Henry does not exist without Anglesea," he said. He also claimed that, while the Anglesea power station supplied only 40% of the smelter's power, the company would struggle to find alternative baseload power supplies without Anglesea.[11]

Barber told the Australian Financial Review that an environmental impact assessment should be undertaken before any new permit was issued. "The 1961 agreement, as you would expect, didn't really have much in it. Who wants to take the environmental considerations of 1961 and extend them for 100 years," her said.[11]

Subsequently, Richard Baker reported in The Age that in a a late 2010 briefing paper on discussions over renewing the lease the Victorian Department of Primary Industries had agreed to keeping the royalties on brown coal at the same rate as set in 1961. Baker also reported that the briefing note flagged that Alcoa's lease should be extended for a further 50 years and allowed to encroach into a further 600 hectares of the Anglesea heathland. "The Age has been told that Parks Victoria recently spent $1 million reviving the area of native heathland that the Alcoa works plan shows could be affected by future mine operations," Baker reported. According to the briefing paper Alcoa would be exempted from Victoria's Native Vegetation Framework obligation of offsetting cleared native vegetation with an equivalent area elsewhere. Instead, the company would only be required to comply with this provision if it went beyond the proposed extended mining footprint.[12]

According to the briefing paper, the approval of the Cabinet and associated legislation is scheduled to occur in May. Victorian Energy and Resources Minister Michael O'Brien declined to comment on the negotiations with Alcoa. Alcoa's spokesman Brendan Foran declined to comment on the negotiations. Baker reported that Foran "said a work plan for the mine had been submitted to the government as part of the lease renewal process."[12]

"Mr Foran said Alcoa was satisfied with the progress of negotiations," baker reported.[12] Greens member of Parliament Greg Barber told Baker "everyone knows it is closing time for coal and this mining licence is the government's chance to set new standards."[12]

Following Baker's story in The Age, the Geelong Advertiser reported that Foran "refused to comment on future royalty payments and compensation for surrounding landholders". Geelong Environment Council President Joan Lindros told reporter Carmel Christensen that "I'd say that everybody that's had any involvement with the Anglesea heath is so concerned about what looks like being proposed. The coal is only here for a short time, the heath should be here for a long time. It is very significant, there's a diversity of flora and fauna that makes it very special and it ranks with very few places in the world."[13]

"There's been no real discussion with the government and Alcoa and we now need to change that. We want a bit of transparency about what's proposed and we just want to inform the government that it's just not acceptable," Mrs Lindros said.[13]

Articles and resources

References

  1. "Coal Mining", Alcoa website, accessed August 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 "Alcoa Anglesea Power Station: Mine Work Plan, an introduction", Alcoa in Australia website, September 2011
  3. "Alcoa Anglesea Power Station: Mine Work Plan, an overview", Alcoa in Australia website, accessed February 2019
  4. Alcoa of Australia, "Alcoa to Close Point Henry Aluminium Smelter and Rolling Mills in Australia", Media Release, February 18, 2014.
  5. "Alcoa to shut Anglesea coal mine and power plant," The Age, May 12, 2015
  6. "Eden Project Anglesea Concept", The Eden Project, accessed February 2019
  7. "Serious hazards in burning coal" Dr Eugenie Kayak, The Age, October 27, 2011.
  8. "Anglesea beach protesters demand Alcoa coal mine shut-down", The Geelong Independent, June 23, 2014
  9. "Shut It Down: Anglesea Power Station", Campaign created by: Surf Coast Air Action, CommunityRun, accessed February 2020
  10. Greg Barber, "Q: Will the Anglesea coal mine, power station and smelter be subject to environmental assessment?", March 2, 2011.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Matthew Dunckley, "Mine battle looms for Alcoa", Australian Financial Review, March 4, 2011, page 19. (Sub' req'd).
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Richard Baker, "Alcoa mine could take heritage heathland", The Age, March 21, 2011.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Carmel Christensen, "Fears over possible Anglesea mine expansion", Geelong Advertiser, March 22nd, 2011.

Related SourceWatch articles

External resources

  • Alcoa Australia, Alcoa at Anglesea, 1980. (This title is not available online but can be accessed via the National Library of Australia).
  • Anglesea Heath draft management plan, Parks Victoria and Alcoa Australia, February 2001.
  • Parks Victoria and Alcoa World Alumina Australia, "Anglesea Heath Management Plan", Alcoa World Alumina Australia (Alcoa) and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE), November 2002.

External articles