Wollongong Coal’s newly released greenhouse gas emissions draft plan reveals the company wants to do nothing to mitigate scope 1 fugitive emissions from its Russell Vale coal mine.
The project, which was recently given the green light by the Independent Planning Commission and is awaiting final Federal Government EPBC approval, would be among the top 100 scope 1 emission producing projects in the country (P.14) if built.
When the IPC approved the mine, it wrote a condition of consent that it claimed would require Wollongong Coal “to take all reasonable steps to … reduce Scope 1 … greenhouse gas emissions of the development”.
Despite this requirement, Wollongong Coal states in its draft GHG Management Plan (P.46) that has just been developed that “no established measures are available for controlling fugitive GHG emissions from the mine operations.”
The venting of fugitive gases would be responsible for the vast majority (99.6 percent) of scope 1 emissions. In total, the Russell Vale extension would create about 1.4 million tonnes of direct, scope 1 fugitive CO2-e emissions.
“This is typical of a dodgy operator like Wollongong Coal - as soon as its polluting coal mine is approved, it seeks to cut corners,” said Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Nic Clyde.
“This is also a failure of the IPC and the NSW Planning Department - Wollongong Coal has presented a polluting plan, with no guarantees to mitigate greenhouse emissions.
“Despite the IPC saying it had imposed conditions that would minimise emissions, this draft GHG plan would allow Wollongong coal to vent potent methane gas straight to the atmosphere.
“NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes must direct his department to send this joke of a GHG Management Plan back to the drawing board.”
Kaye Osborn from Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining, a local grassroots organisation formed in opposition to Wollongong Coal’s plans, said Wollongong Coal wanted to cut corners before it even had Federal approval for Russell Vale.
“Minister Stokes needs to show he is serious about climate change,” she said.
“He needs to ensure that Wollongong Coal takes responsibility for the massive emissions footprint of its mining expansion and actually does something to mitigate that.
“The company’s draft management plan, which puts 99.6% of the Scope 1 emissions in the too hard basket, falls way short.”
“Later this month thousands of people are expected to take to the streets all around Australia for the global school strike for climate. The people of NSW want action to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for climate disruption. Time is running out. If Wollongong Coal is unwilling or unable to mitigate its fugitive greenhouse gas emissions, it shouldn’t be mining the coal in the first place.”
Wollongong Coal’s draft GHG Management Plan claims “Russell Vale Colliery is a ‘low gas’ mine”. But this contradicts information (P716) provided by the company to the NSW IPC prior to determination, in which Wollongong Coal stated: “The mine will be classified as a ‘Gassy Mine’ and generate post mining emissions from stockpiled ROM coal.”
Wollongong Coal also claims in its draft GHG Management Plan that “no established measures are available for controlling fugitive GHG emissions from the mine operations.”
According to the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, there are new technologies that are available to capture methane rather than venting it to the atmosphere.