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Government documents reveal HVO coal expansion would force other industries to pick up emissions slack

Industries across NSW would be forced to pick up the emissions reduction slack if a single, Glencore and Yancoal owned coal mine expansion is built, according to an internal submission from the Planning Department’s net zero team.

In a recent submission in response to the planned Hunter Valley Operations project, the Insights Net Zero Emissions Modelling (NZEM) team notes: 

... the large increase in emissions from this Project in the mid-2040s will require other parts of the NSW economy to decarbonise to remain on track with the NSW Government’s target of net zero emissions by 2050.”  

If approved and built, HVO would represent the single largest increase in coal mining capacity (400 Mt of new coal over the life of the expansion) in NSW since the Paris Agreement entered into force. It would be responsible for 33 million tonnes of on site emissions, which would count towards NSW’s carbon budget. 

As well, the submission shows that because the mining companies would be mining deeper, gassier coal seams as part of this expansion, the highest level of fugitive emissions would not be released until 2045. At that point, emissions would reach eight times that of the fugitive emissions from the currently operating HVO mine as projected for this year.

In 2047 - when NSW should be close to or at net zero - the HVO expansion is expected to produce more than one million tonnes of CO2-e on site emissions. 

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW coordinator Nic Clyde said the internal government submission could spell trouble for the Hunter Valley Operations proposal.

“We believe this is the strongest emissions advice yet provided by a government agency to a coal mining company in NSW in response to a new project proposal,” he said.

“This advice shows that if coal giants are allowed to keep expanding their mines, then other industries like transport, agriculture and manufacturing will pay the price in having to decarbonise their operations even faster to make up for it.

“It’s outrageous to shift the burden of emissions reduction on to other sectors, when it’s the fossil fuel sector that is the single biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change globally.

“The Minns Government needs to urgently cast off the approach of the former government, and take action now to embed climate change at the heart of decision-making and stop approving massive coal expansions that will blow the NSW carbon budget.”


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