The announcement that the world’s biggest coal miner Peabody has filed for Chapter 11 protection in the US raises serious questions about whether taxpayers will be left footing the huge clean up bill for the company’s coal mines in Australia .
Peabody operates six mines in Queensland – Burton, North Goonyella, Coppabella, Middlemount, Millennium and Moorvale, and three in New South Wales – Wambo, Wilpinjong and Metropolitan.
Rick Humphries, Mine Rehabilitation Reform Campaign Coordinator at Lock the Gate Alliance, said Peabody saying their Australian companies won't be affected by their bankruptcy filing in the United States is like someone relaxing on the beach thinking they'll be unaffected by the earthquake out to sea.
“Communities in Queensland and NSW will definitely feel the waves of impact from the bankruptcy of Peabody’s US parent company,” he said.
"The announcement that the world’s biggest coal miner Peabody has filed for Chapter 11 protection in the US raises serious questions about whether taxpayers will be left footing the huge clean up bill for the company’s coal mines in Australia.
"With Peabody Australia’s parent company now looking extremely shakey, we need the money in the bank to ensure they can deliver on their mine closure and rehabilitation responsibilities in Australia.
"Mining projects have been approved across the Queensland and NSW, without adequate financial assurances to cover the cost of rehabilitation in the event of bankruptcy or premature closure.
"Foreign-owned mining companies have damaged our land and water, taken the majority of profits off shore and now there is a real risk that the community is left to pick up the bill for cleaning up this mining mess.
"The situation with Peabody is a clear warning – it is not just the junior mining companies who pose a financial risk to the states when they go bankrupt. The big mining houses are under stress as well,” he said.
Georgina Woods from Lock the Gate said, "Peabody's Wilpinjong and Wambo mines are right now proposing to expand further at devastating cost to local communities and the environment.
"That a company in this state is being treated as a serious project proponent by the NSW Government is an indication that the Government is very badly in need of a reality check," she said.