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Join the conversation to restore community and business confidence in coal mining.

Ian Macfarlane, Chief Executive of the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) teamed up with Nick Jorss, Executive Chairman, Bowen Coking Coal recently to speak with local suppliers and producers at the Bowen Basin Mining Club’s annual Rockhampton luncheon event.

As leading advocates for the coal mining industry, the pair pulled no punches to emphasise the urgency of taking action right now, for the economic future of Queensland and Australia, and to ensure a wealthy, thriving future for upcoming generations.

Mr Macfarlane highlighted the imperatives of attracting younger generations into the resources industry now, to bring in fresh ideas, innovative thinking and energy to solve the challenges of transitioning to a lower carbon future. Giving these initiatives top priority right now is non-negotiable to sustaining the growth of exports of Queensland’s world-leading quality thermal and metallurgical coal.

Mr Macfarlane said the QRC had recently launched a campaign aimed at Gen Z called ‘Shape your Future, Innovate Our World’ which highlights the many benefits of a career in mining to young people. The strong message it sends to the next generation is to “stop throwing rocks from the grandstand, and instead get on the field and be part of the solution to achieving a lower-emissions economy”.

Bowen Coking Coal (BCC) provided an update on their operations which are investing heavily in that future, with three mines coming online with over 1.5m tonnes of ROM coal production in the last year. The company has also overseen the refurbishment of their Burton CHPP on time and in budget, secured shipments to Asian steel mills and progressed the Isaac River mine approvals process.

BCC is strategically investing in coal, with Queensland’s steel-making coal being “the engine room of the seaborne market”, as Mr Jorss calls it. He predicts the demand for steel will be up 30 – 60% on current levels by 2050, fuelled in part by the drive to decarbonise and electrify the energy sector, which is “about to unleash the mother of all mining booms.” BCC’s project pipeline includes a diversified portfolio of production and development-ready coal assets, from Bluff in Central Queensland to the Burton Complex and Hillalong in the northern Bowen Basin.

Mr Jorss happily confessed his bullish outlook for the future of coal as a critical mineral. The numbers speak loudly!

He quoted Goldman Sachs Economist, Jeff Currie, who recently commented, ‘US$3.8 trillion of investment in renewables moved consumption of fossil fuels from 82% to 81% of overall energy consumption in 10 years.’ He also reminded the audience that producing one electric vehicle currently takes six times the mined minerals that a fossil-fuelled vehicle consumes.

Despite the major hurdles in the approvals process and the fact that Queensland’s top coal royalty rate is now the highest in the world and five times higher than our neighbouring state of NSW, Mr Jorss pointed out coal’s overriding benefits as a reliable power source.

“Wind and solar are expensive forms of electricity, if you look at the total system costs and include the massive storage and transmission requirements to create dispatchable electricity, which is what we need. Green hydrogen is also highly unlikely as a replacement for coking coal in steel making with up to 80% of the energy lost in the manufacture and transport of this commodity, making it prohibitively expensive,” said Mr Jorss.

Both speakers urged the audience to join the conversation to restore community and business confidence in coal mining, by being prepared to understand the science and not be easily led by the tiny vocal minority. A recent example discussed is the way just 18 people held up the New Acland mine approvals for 14 years, decimating the local businesses and community over that time.

Mr Macfarlane commented that politicians ask why they should speak up for the industry if we don’t speak up for ourselves. Good question. As an advocate for the Bowen Basin’s mining-related businesses, I strongly agree that the long-term industry of the ‘critical mineral called coal’ is far from over.

It’s our job to stand up for the workers and resources we need for a strong future.

Jodie Currie

Director, Bowen Basin Mining Club

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