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Australian court blocks new mine project in major blow to coal sector

11 February 2019

Developers have lost a court appeal to build a coal mine in Australia’s Hunter Valley over its potentially “dire” environmental impact. In the landmark ruling on February 8, a court denied the appeal on the Rocky Hill project in New South Wales state, citing an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as uncertain economic benefits and adverse social and visual impacts.

Representative image - Shutterstock
Representative image - Shutterstock

The Rocky Hill project was developed by Gloucester Resources, a unit of GRL Holdings, which has the right to appeal to the New South Wales supreme court. The company said it would assess the implications of today’s decision and consider its next steps.
In his ruling, the judge found that mine and associated greenhouse gas emissions would add to the global total at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in GHG emissions.
He said an open cut coal mine in this part of the Gloucester valley would be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The ruling is set to make developing new coal mines or expanding existing projects more challenging.
Australia is the world’s biggest coal exporter and the fuel is its largest resources earner. Canberra last year scrapped plans for a national energy policy that aimed to cut carbon emissions as well as power prices in part due to opposition from coal supporters within its ranks.

Despite this, on February 7, a report by Australian National University researchers found the country was adopting renewable energy faster per capita than the rest of the world. Rapid recent growth in wind and solar power has left it on track to meet Paris carbon emissions reductions targets well before 2030, it found.

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