Glencore’s $1bn coal project to be fast-tracked as first recession in 30 years looms in Australia

Operations in Bowen Basin

AUSTRALIA’S government is fast-tracking the development of the $1bn coal mine in the hope that its development helps alleviate the effects of the country’s first recession in 30 years, said Bloomberg News.

The Valeria coal mine is being built by Glencore in Bowen Basin, a region in Queensland, which the provincial government deems a ‘co-ordinated project’. The authorities hope that it would get “new jobs happening quicker’, said Bloomberg News.

“This new mine has the potential to create hundreds of new jobs as Queensland recovers from the extraordinary shock of the global coronavirus pandemic,” state Treasurer Cameron Dick said. “Coal mining has a long history in Queensland and will continue to be a major industry for many years to come.”

Gavan McFadzean, climate and energy program manager at the Australian Conservation Foundation, said in response that a coal-driven economic recovery “… only throws us from one crisis into another”. Support for major new coal projects eroded the credibility of the state government’s commitment to protecting the Great Barrier Reef and reaching net zero carbon-dioxide emissions by 2050, he told Bloomberg News.

Glencore’s proposed mine will produce around 20 million tons a year of thermal and metallurgical coal, equal to about 4% of the nation’s output.

“This is an important and positive step in progressing the project, which is still at an early stage but has the potential to deliver a major jobs and economic boost to Central Queensland communities,” said Glencore said in a statement.

The project will now be subject to a streamlined planning process overseen by the state’s independent Coordinator-General, said Bloomberg News.