Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Ridiculous scaremongering over electricity prices and Coalpac’s mines

Treasury documents suggest that the rejection of proposed open-cut coal mines aimed at supplying the Mt Piper power plant near Lithgow could cause a major electricity price-hike in New South Wales.  But the mine’s approval would destroy a sensitive pagoda landscape in the Gardens of Stone region.

“A Treasury letter applied extreme pressure on the Department of Planning and Infrastructure through its references to significant risks to the NSW energy security and major price rises[1].  Such remarks appear to be ridiculous, yet this letter caused the Department of Planning to change its stance on Coalpac, allowing the new proposal to come forward[2],” Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness said.

“Treasury’s claim that Energy Australia will hike electricity prices ignores this fact:-  since Mt Piper power plant opened, the vast majority of its coal has come from Centennial Coal’s underground mines.  Cheap, low grade, high ash coal from Coalpac is only a recent consideration.  It would increase Mt Piper’s profit-margin at the expense of the spectacular Gardens of Stone region, but the electricity price will not change.  Electricity prices were steady before Coalpac started mining in 2006, did not rise when Coalpac closed down and won’t fall if its open-cut mines re-open,” he said.

“Springvale Colliery was specifically developed for the needs of Mt Piper Power Plant in 1993 and is connected to it by a conveyor belt.  Angus Place Colliery has a purpose built haul road to this power plant.  The Springvale and Angus Place coal mines have the combined capacity to currently produce 6.4 million tonnes of coal a year (Centennial, 2013). Angus Place and Springvale mines have combined coal reserves of over 300 million tonnes and both have submitted major proposals to advance mine operations”, said Mr Muir.

“There is plenty of coal available from existing underground mines to meet the Mt Piper Power plant’s needs, whereas a unique pagoda landscape will be wrecked if Coalpac’s mining proposals are approved,” Mr Muir said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)


[1] Letter from Mark Patterson, D-G of Trade and Investment and Philip Geatjens, Secretary of NSW Treasury, 20 August, 2013

[2] Department of Planning and Infrastructure, Final addendum report, Coalpac Consolidation Project, 26 September, 2013.