The Qld Government, in its post-COVID-19 $13.8m stimulus strategy, wants to open up an additional 7,000 square kilometers in the Bowen and Surat Basins for gas and coal exploration.
Craig Parker, Democrats campaigner
Here’s why this is problematic.
The Government ignored threats this exploration poses to the long-term productivity of agricultural land and water supplies. And, future generations and the economy will pay dearly for Queensland’s relentless and short-sighted pursuit of fossil fuels.
It’s beyond belief that the Queensland Government would ignore the most devastating bushfires and drought in history, knowing there is worse to come if we do not find alternatives to burning fossil fuels.
Indian Mining Minister (India being Queensland’s third-largest customer of thermal coal) says India will cease imports by 2024. And you can bet other countries like China will do the same at some point in the medium-term future. This poses a massive threat to our economy in the future.
Coal for steel
Coking coal was once thought essential for producing steel but not any more.
Industry players such as Thyssenkrupp in Germany are testing hydrogen to replace coking coal in the steel smelting process. Chris Knowles, McLanahan Corporation reports in Australian Mining Monthly that a Swedish joint venture is trialing fossil-free steel production and warns:
The technologies to make this iron reduction process a reality are not necessarily new, but such a change would need to be adopted at scale in order to deliver time and cost outcomes that encourage the change.
…. Denial and delay will rob our industry and our society of a unique chance to develop and capture emerging opportunities.
It is only a matter of time before hydrogen costs are low enough to compete with coking coal. The failure to innovate spells the death of Australia’s coal industry.
The verdict is still out on whether or not LNG is the transition fuel to a renewable energy future. Many would say the time for that was decades ago.
In any case, according to Dylan McConnell, PhD researcher at University of Melbourne’s Australian-German Climate and Energy College:
Australia currently has an oversupply of LNG due to the Covid19 pandemic. Exports to China alone dropped by as much as 20%. Put into perspective, that drop is roughly equivalent to our entire domestic demand.
Based on the cost to explore and develop LNG extraction, the price per gigajoule needs to be around $8 or $9 to be viable. Current market rates are $2 to $4 a gigajoule and may go to $6 by 2021 but whichever way you look at it, the Queensland venture is a loss-maker.
One thing is for certain, these project will be subsidised somehow, either in the form of higher electricity prices or taxpayers footing the bill yet again for unsustainable industries.
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