Anvil Hill becomes a hot potato

9 October 2007

Next week, ownership of the controversial Anvil Hill coal mine will officially pass from Centennial Coal to Swiss mining giant Xstrata. It’s a clear sign that widespread community opposition to the mine has had a big impact and has turned Anvil Hill into a hot potato.

According to media reports, Centennial managing director Bob Cameron said Xstrata was better placed to absorb the risks involved in the development of the Anvil Hill project.

Greenpeace CEO and energy campaigners met with Xstrata’s CEO, Peter Coates earlier this week to discuss the company’s plans for the mine.

Xstrata are the world’s largest exporter of thermal coal with operations in many countries, including existing mines in the QLD and the Hunter Valley in NSW. Earlier this year, Xstrata were calling for Australia to halt new mine approvals to help ease port congestion that has caused a fourfold increase in penalties paid by the company because of delays.

Newcastle is already the world’s largest coal port and is proposed to double in capacity with a new coal loading facility due to start construction next month. Centennial coal was part of a consortium that is planning to build the new coal loader, of which the Anvil Hill mine would be a major supplier. Xstrata are co-owners of Port Waratah Coal Services Ltd who operate the existing coal loader and will now take over Centennial’s stake in the new loader.

During the meeting, Xstrata confirmed that they propose to develop the Anvil Hill mine in roughly the same timeframe as Centennial, which means construction is likely to start early next year.

We confirmed to Xstrata that we’ll continue to do whatever we can to stop the mine being built.

We have a rapidly closing window in which to radically cut greenhouse emissions and simply cannot afford to expand the coal industry any further. We urgently need a just transition from coal to clean energy.

Over the coming months there will be many opportunities to get involved in the campaign. On November 3rd, Rising Tide have organised a peaceful flotilla to blockade Newcastle coal port in protest over construction of the new loader. The Walk Against Warming will be happening two weeks before the federal election and will be an important opportunity to send a powerful message to politicians that we need to Quit Coal.