Coal approval at what price?

Newcastle Herald - 7.10.2011

LAST July, during a visit to the Hunter Valley, senior federal opposition figure Malcolm Turnbull said what everybody knows but few will dare to say.
Suggesting that the federal government ought to have a bigger say in the assessment of mining proposals, Mr Turnbull said state governments had “a gigantic conflict of interest”.

“The state governments have a massive vested financial interest in these projects going ahead. They don’t get any revenue or very little revenue from prime agricultural land, but they get hundreds of millions of dollars from these coalmines and coal seam gas,” Mr Turnbull said in a radio interview.

Coal and Allied, the formerly locally based coal giant now owned by Rio Tinto and Mitsubishi, wants to discard undertakings in a 2003 formal deed of agreement that it would not mine Saddleback Ridge. Its reason is simply that coal is more valuable now and it can make more money than it previously considered possible by removing the ridge.

The company expects to mine about 200 million tonnes of extra coal over the 11 years following approval. At present prices that amounts to about $24 billion in resource value.

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