CQ coal industry to be hit hard
THE Gillard and successive federal governments could potentially reap $13b from the carbon tax on the coal industry’s fugitive emissions in the next decade.
Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business chief executive Seamus French warned the tax put at risk current and future coal investments in Australia, the jobs of 40,000 employees and 100,000 contractors, suppliers and other workers linked to the industry.
Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche reinforced the message, saying 2700 Queensland coal workers could lose their jobs as early as 2018.
Reaction from the companies behind the Bowen Basin’s biggest seven fugitive-emitting mines ranged from critical to cautious.
“The tax bill on fugitive emissions alone will account for more than 75% of revenues to be raised from the coal industry, totalling around $13b over the next nine years,” Mr French said.
“The tragedy of this tax is it will have no impact on stopping or slowing climate change given Australia produces just 1.5% of global carbon emissions.
“The tax is simply a revenue-raising measure, with more money to be raised by the government in just three months than the European Union’s emissions trading scheme, with a population of more than 500 million and an economy 16 times larger, has in six years.”
Under Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s carbon tax, to be introduced on July 1, next year, the $23 carbon price will add about $1.80 to the production of coal per tonne.
The coal sector will receive a $1.3b package to support jobs for the move to clean energy.
Gassy mines such as the Bowen Basin’s seven sinners will face significant cost pressures.
An Xstrata spokesperson said while action on climate change was to be supported, there was disappointment at the government’s “lack of genuine consultation” with the community, business and the federal multi-party committee on climate change.
Peabody Energy chairman Greg Boyce said Australia’s electricity crisis, with prices predicted to rise 30% in the next three years, was reason enough to reject a carbon tax.
A BHP Billiton spokesperson said the company acknowledged the release of the carbon pricing framework and its associated packages of financial assistance.
Mr Roche said regions such as Central Queensland, where one in four jobs was created by the resources sector, would be hardest hit.
Off-road diesel costs rising by about 16% also struck at the bottom line of coal mines in the region.
Analysts were predicting operational expenditure for coal mines could blow out by 5% a year.