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South Korean Government climate pledge increases pressure on KEPCO to abandon Bylong Valley coal mine appeal

KEPCO’s plans to build a destructive coal mine in the Bylong Valley are now even more out of step with South Korean climate policies, after the South Korean Government announced a moratorium on coal financing by public financial institutions at USA President Joe Biden's climate summit yesterday (Thursday April 22). 

KEPCO, a South Korean Government majority-owned corporation, has refused to accept the rejection of its Bylong Valley coal mine proposal and lodged an appeal against a Land and Environment Court ruling in March this year.

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Nic Clyde said, “We’re calling on KEPCO to get behind the South Korean Government and its new push to reduce coal financing, by ending its pursuit of the Bylong Coal Project.

“The local community wants to see KEPCO sell the land it bought for the mine so farming families can return and the valley can once again be home to a vibrant community.

“The South Korean Government is showing global climate leadership in its move to prevent public financial institutions investing in coal, and KEPCO should now act in the same spirit and end its coal ambitions in Australia.

“If KEPCO continues in its pursuit of this project, it will not only be signing up for a stranded asset that has no future, but it will be undermining the strong standing that South Korea is achieving on the global stage by acting swiftly on the climate challenge.”

Bylong Valley farmer John Weaver said he remained concerned about an existential threat to his business from KEPCO’s mine: “We are really worried about losing our water. If the mine is approved, we will lose our water.

“We have owned Budden for more than 40 years and over that time, through selective breeding, we have developed a herd of Angus beef cattle. Our cattle are quiet, easy to handle and sought after by many buyers. Without access to our water, our cattle will die.

“No amount of money will be adequate compensation for the loss of our herd and the 40 years of selective breeding. We can’t lose our water.”

Sejong Youn, climate finance program director at Seoul-based NGO Solutions for Our Climate said, “Korea’s new ban on overseas coal financing signals a major shift in Korea’s public finance policy, and now that the government has officially withdrawn its support for coal, KEPCO should reconsider its position on the financially disastrous Bylong mine project and find other investments more aligned with Korea’s carbon neutrality drive. 

"Further, the announcement is likely to impact Korea’s future investments in Australia’s LNG sources as investment in oil and gas will likely face a similar fate.”

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