The ‘Nogat Coal: No coal in PNG’ campaign is a collaboration between the Centre for Environmental Law & Community Rights Inc., Nogat Coal and, Jubilee Australia Research Centre. The campaign’s goal is to stop the development of the coal industry in Papua New Guinea led by an Australian listed company. Papua New Guinea does not need to open for a dying industry to improve its energy access. Instead, we believe that the answer lies in a just and equitable energy pathway for PNG using renewable energy.
Gippsland, Thursday, August 11, 2005: Greenpeace is today taking on the developed world’s most greenhouse-polluting power plant – Hazelwood power station in the Latrobe Valley, as extreme weather conditions batter Victoria. Greenpeace activists, this morning occupied a loader in the brown coal pit at Hazelwood and awarded the plant “1st prize” as the developed world’s most polluting power station. Activists also laid a banner in the coal pit reading “Coal fuels climate change”. (c) Greenpeace/Hunt 2005 NOT FOR ARCHIVE OR RESALE[/caption]
Papua New Guinea (PNG) does not have any operational coal mines or coal-fired power stations – something the Australian company Mayur wants to change. If Mayur’s plan to mine coal and build coal-fired power plant(s) goes ahead, PNG would be the first Pacific Island Country to develop a coal industry.
There are impacts across all stage of the coal industry, coal pollutes the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land that we depend on.
The mining and burning of coal are a leading cause in the climate crisis we are facing.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the world has already warmed by one degree due to mass industrialisation, increasing greenhouse, gas pollution from the burning of oil, coal and gas. While readily increasing access to electricity is an admirable goal for the Government of PNG, the country does not need to build a new coal-fired power station (or new coal mines) to achieve it. There are better ways to achieve the goal of increasing access to electricity in PNG. Renewable energy is a better alternative to the polluting coal industry.
Renewable energy is produced harnessing the energy of the earth: solar energy uses energy from the sun; wind power uses energy from the wind, and hydropower harnesses energy from fast-flowing rivers. Because these renewable energy technologies do not put any new carbon into the atmosphere, they do not contribute to climate change.
Research suggests that off-grid electricity expansion is likely to be more effective in increasing electricity access for more people in Papua New Guinea (PNG) than on-grid solutions. Off-grid electricity generation includes micro-hydro, and small scale solar and biomass facilities that would be a more effective way to get electricity access to these rural locations.
A Report from CELCOR (Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights Inc) and the Jubilee Australia Research Centre has raised significant concerns about a proposal from an ASX listed Australian energy company, Mayur Resources, to build the Pacific’s first coal-fired power station in Papua New Guinea.
Jubilee and CELCOR’s report argues that the project is unnecessary, that it would have serious health and environmental impacts and the electricity it generates would largely benefit only mining companies, not communities. The report also highlights how the plant Papua New Guinea would undermine future renewable initiatives as well as lock in higher energy prices.
While Mayur Resources has claimed that coal power will benefit PNG, the CELCOR and Jubilee Report has made a range of allegations, principally that:
Mayur Resources’s claim that the extra electricity produced by the plant would benefit the people of PNG who are missing out on electrification is largely unfounded, and that the principal beneficiaries would be Canadian, Australian and South African mining companies.
There has been a distinct lack of community consultation, especially with the nearby community of Labu Butu, which is just 500 metres from the proposed site.
The health impacts of putting a large coal-fired power plant so close to a major population centre such as Lae would be substantial.
Mayur Resources’s claim that it can produce electricity at a significantly lower tariff than hydro and biomass is highly questionable, which raises real questions about the economic viability of the project and locking PNG into high power prices.
Starting a coal industry to help meet PNG’s energy needs is completely unnecessary. PNG already sources much of its energy from hydro, and is developing more hydropower plants. It is also developing its first biomass and solar plants. All of these are better options for improving supply to the grid than coal.
The regulatory approval process has been riddled with irregularities, raising deep concerns about the integrity of the governance processes.
A coal-fired power plant in Papua New Guinea would undermine Papua New Guinea’s national climate plan under the Paris Agreement, committing to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030.
Luke Fletcher, Executive Director of the Jubilee Australia Research Centre said:
“It has been eight years since Australia built a new coal-fired power station in our own country because coal is now both more expensive and causes worse health and environmental consequences than renewables. If we are no longer building coal plants here, why would we start building them in PNG?
“Moreover, Mayur clearly does not have a social license to operate in the wake of Rio Tinto destroying sacred artefacts at Juukan Gorge in Western Australia and BHP’s co-ownership of a coal mine in Chile accused of human rights abuses, this is yet another example of Australian companies pushing through a project without proper community consent.”
Mr Peter Bosip, the Executive Director of CELCOR, said:
“This report shows that PNG does not need coal-fired power, which is more expensive and more polluting than the many renewable energy sources – hydro, solar and biomass – that we already have available. This project does not stack up. It isn’t in the national interest of Papua New Guinea and could lock the people into more expensive and dirty power for 25 years.
“We are calling for PNG Power Ltd should immediately reject Mayur’s proposal for a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) and the government should place a moratorium on coal extraction and combustion in this country.”