The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has pointed to a new analysis of declining international demand for coal as more reasons why the massive industrial expansion of ports on the Great Barrier Reef’s coastline must stop.
The latest report from the Carbon Tracker Initiative, a group of financial analysts specialising in the economic risks of coal pollution, highlights the high risks of investing in coal mining and coal mining infrastructure while demand is reducing.
The report finds that over $112 billion of coal mining investment globally is at risk, including the new mines driving port expansion at Abbot Point in Queensland.
Felicity Wishart, the AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director, said the risk to the Reef was too great for so little benefit.
“This new report states ‘high cost coal producers are gambling on survival in the hope that prices will somehow recover’. They are also gambling with the health of the Reef.
“We know that dredging and dumping, increased shipping and coal dust are all detrimental to the Great Barrier Reef and the $6 billion dollar tourism industry it supports.
“It is highly irresponsible that our governments would put the Reef at risk by expanding ports for extremely financially tenuous new mining operations that may not eventuate.
“We know that mining is shedding jobs hand over fist, as Queensland’s unemployment rate is racing ahead of the national average and household income is below the national average.
“In addition, we know that 83% of mining profits go overseas and many jobs don’t go to locals, when workers are imported from interstate and overseas.
“The mining industry was not even prepared to pay for land-based disposal of dredge spoil at Abbot Point. Now it seems the Queensland government is offering to do so, but they plan to dump it in the nationally significant Caley Valley wetlands and cause more environmental harm.
“Premier Newman has previously said that Queensland is ‘in the coal business’. But we can only dig up coal and ship it off once.
“If we protect the Reef we can stay in the tourism and fishing business forever,” said Ms Wishart.