Weipa miner Metro Mining today made a shock announcement it was shutting down its flagship Cape York Bauxite Hill operation which came hard on the heels of the Liberal National Party joining with Labor to shut down cheap coal fired power for Queensland.
Metro said it would shelve its Skardon River project 100 klm north of Weipa until April next year due to its inability to renew contracts with China amid a slumped world alumina market.
The closure will see 50 Cape York Aborigines and Islanders lose their plant operation jobs which will significantly impact local communities. The mine employs another 160 fly-in employees,
Yesterday saw the LNP vote with Labor and Greens to curb Queensland coal mining and to drop support for coal-fired power.
Katters Australian Party leader Robbie Katter put forward a motion to provide Queenslanders with the cheapest electricity possible by ceasing costly renewable power mandates, subsidies and investment programs available to inefficient wind and solar generation to ensure coal and renewables competed on a level playing field.
The LNP is supporting Labor to achieve its renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030, a move Mr Katter says will kill power dependent industries in the state.
Mr Katter said the LNP Opposition’s stance on coal was akin to former Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten.
“They tell us in North Queensland they support coal, but when it came time to nail their colours to the mast in Parliament, they squibbed it,” he said.
“They are giving preferences to the Greens in Brisbane-based seats at the upcoming election so it hardly surprises me that they have voted this way. But they can be sure the people of regional and North Queensland will remember that the LNP betrayed them when they walk into the polling booth on October 31.”
Mr Katter said coal played an important part in the economy and now and into the future, providing $3.8 billion in wages, $4.4 billion in royalties last year, accounting for 0.1 per cent of Queensland’s land mass, $52.5 billion gross regional product in 2918-19, 15 per cent of the total GDP over the whole of Queensland, and 11 per cent of employment.
“Regional Queenslanders feel like the Government has been their enemy for so many years. Go out there and try and start a coal mine or water project from scratch—it is not very easy.”
Member for Hill Shane Knuth said electricity prices continued to go up because there were zero coal-fired power plants in North Queensland.
“Collinsville was the last coal-fired power station in North Queensland, and it had five coal-powered steam turbines with a combined generation capacity of 190 megawatts of electricity,” he said.
“However, a solar power farm which was built on adjacent land in 2018 now generates only 42 megawatts of electricity. The Collinsville power station had families who lived, worked and sent their kids to school in Collinsville and the generator saved hundreds of millions of dollars in lost transmission and kept electricity prices down.”
Member for Hinchinbrook Nick Dametto said the KAP wasn’t against renewables, but wanted the State Government to put a stop to solar and wind subsidies that made regional power prices soar.
“Wind, solar and hydro projects are getting all the benefit from the subsidies for renewable energies, yet we have a project sitting in the middle of the Hinchinbrook electorate ready to go—the NQBE (the North Queensland Bio-Energy Corporation)—which has no government backing,” he said.
“They have been offered a little bit of money to go towards the development of the project—about $1 million was ear-tagged—but there is not a cent to go towards making sure that this project has longevity and the legs to get up.
“NQBE offers dispatchable power and supports the sugar cane industry but can’t get a cent. That’s because the Government’s renewable subsidies are driven by ideology and not economics.”