The No Mining Fiction
26 February 2019
By Nyunggai Warren Mundine AO
Recently the Chief Judge of the NSW Land and Environment, Brian Preston, dismissed an appeal to allow the Rocky Hill coal mine in the Hunter Valley. Among other things, the judge said that the mine should be rejected because the coal it produces will increase greenhouse gas emissions.
The Environmental Defenders Office NSW (EDO) argued in the appeal that the mine’s impact on climate change were reasons to reject the mine. The EDO has said it will continue to mount legal challenges to “phase out most coal globally by 2030”. Preston used to be the EDO’s principal solicitor, and while it’s not suggested he was biased, it was an extraordinary decision.
But what most struck me about the ruling is that 95 per cent of coal produced at the Rocky Hill mine would have been used to produce steel. The Green dream of 100 per cent renewable energy can’t happen without steel.
And there’s no steel without coal.
Where do Green activists think the steel for wind turbines is going to come from if coal is phased out globally by 2030?
This is an example of the fiction of the Green agenda.
The Green position on mining generally is another example. Greens hate mining. I once challenged the Greens to name one place in Australia they’d support a new mine. I’m still waiting for a response.
Greens consistently oppose mines. Yet the Green dream will require an increase in mining to a level perhaps not seen before.
Non-hydro renewables currently generate a minuscule amount of global energy (no more than 1-2 per cent). Green activists want this to increase to 100 per cent which would require a huge amount of mining of iron ore and coal (for steel), petroleum (for plastics), aluminium, cobalt, lithium, graphite, copper, gypsum, zinc, rare earth elements and many other minerals.
Mining will also be required to replace all transport with new electric vehicles.
The “Green New Deal” manifesto released by the socialist-Left wing of the US Democratic Party also calls for the upgrading or replacement of every building in the US. That would require untold amounts of steel as well as glass (sand mining) and concrete which requires limestone, sand, aluminium, iron ore and a host of other materials.
Opposing mining is like opposing modern life. Humans depend on mining for every single aspect of life. Look around you and everything you can see and touch depends on mining.
For a start, everything containing metal or glass comes from mining. Also plastics and synthetics which are derived from petroleum.
Mining is also required to utilise organic materials grown above the ground. Growing, harvesting, transport, production and storage of food, timber and organic materials like cotton, leather and wool requires tools, machines and packaging, all of which are made of mined materials. Without mining we couldn’t produce or transport food in mass quantities or package and store it for long periods without contamination.
Put simply, it wouldn’t be possible to feed, house and clothe over 7.5 billion humans without mining.
Mining is also essential for modern medicine. Minerals used in medicines include silver, zinc, calcium, sulphur and many others. Medical equipment uses metals, plastics, glass and graphite. And without mining, the mass production, distribution and safe storage of pharmaceuticals and other medical products would be impossible.
Mined materials are also required to generate all electricity (including renewables).
If people really wanted to live in a world without mining they’d take off all their clothes and go live in the bush and use sticks and stones collected from the ground as their only tools.
Australia’s economy is under threat from the “no mining” agenda. Projects are being delayed and made uneconomical through relentless lawfare and through bullying suppliers and lenders against doing business with mining companies. Even if the Greens succeed in shutting down Australia’s mining industry, this won’t stop mining.
The world’s need for mined products will continue to rise and non-Western countries that don’t let Green-activists dictate and bully will continue to extract and supply them.
But not all countries have clean and responsible mining. Anyone who cares about the environment should want to see more mining in places like Australia where mining is highly regulated with strict environmental controls.
A lot of people don’t understand how much mining companies do to protect and even improve the land and environment. New mines have rehabilitation plans that set out how the land will be used post-mining.
Regeneration is mandatory and the process begins before the mine is built, including removal and stockpiling of topsoil so it can be put back, growing seedlings for restoration of bushland and buffer or offset sites to protect biodiversity. Restoration and land management happens during mine operation.
Pushing Australia’s mining offshore will not only send Australia broke, it will also cause more environmental damage.
When humans learned to extract minerals and produce metals it transformed the entire world. Mining led to the industrial and technology revolutions. It has given us longer and healthier lives and led to standards of living once unimaginable.
Anyone who opposes mining may as well support humanity going back to the Stone Age.
This article was first published in the Daily Telegraph on 21 February 2019.