NSW Planning Department questions Peabody’s financial situation

Published: June 03, 2016

The Dept of Planning has written to Peabody Energy asking them to outline how the company’s financial status might affect the management of its Wambo mine, which is seeking approval to expand further, despite the company’s US parent filing for bankruptcy.

A week ago, the Department of Planning wrote to the local company asking it to respond to submissions made against the twelfth modification of the Wambo mine. Along with serious problems posed about the risk the project poses to Wollombi Brook, the Department has asked Peabody to respond to questions about its financial status:

“DPE requests that the RTS provide an update on the current status of Peabody Energy Australia and discussion regarding any implications this may have for ongoing mine site management,”1

Hunter region coordinator for Lock the Gate Alliance, Steve Phillips said, “We’re pleased the NSW Government seems to be taking seriously the risk that Peabody Australia may not be financially capable of managing their risky mining operations.

“Peabody’s financial status poses a serious risk to us all. The environmental risk was highlighted by the dam wall at Wambo mine collapsing in January. This expanded longwall they want approval for will be just 40m from Wollombi Brook.

“But there is also a question of social and economic risk. If Peabody go bust, hundreds of workers may be suddenly out of a job, and their entitlements ripped away from them.

“With the Federal election campaign in full swing, we are pleased that the Labor Party has released policy proposing a just transition for coal mining regions affected by the dramatic changes that are underway in energy markets. We’re calling on the Coalition to match that promise. We need to know that the damage from coal mines will be cleaned up, and that workers will not be left without their entitlements. If Peabody falls, they will leave some very big holes.”

1Letter to Peabody from NSW DPE, 27 May 2016. See here.

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