Coal still critical to NSW

WHAT is in a name? A lot if you are considered “critical” or “not critical”.
Coal still critical to NSW Coal still critical to NSW Coal still critical to NSW Coal still critical to NSW Coal still critical to NSW

The Critical Minerals and High-Tech Metals Strategy was met with enthusiasm by all parties.

Hogsback finds it hard to understand how coal mining is somehow considered "not critical" even though it is NSW's largest export and contributes billions of dollars to the state's economy, especially in the regions that are alternatively besieged by droughts or floods.     

Last week New South Wales deputy premier Paul Toole released the state's Critical Minerals and High-Tech Metals Strategy, which is an action plan to establish Australia's first critical minerals hub.

It will also promote exploration, develop supply chains, attract investment and aid downstream processing and recycling.

NSW has known endowments of 17 of the 24 minerals identified in the Australian Critical Minerals Prospectus 2020, with a number of advanced projects and emerging opportunities for scandium, cobalt, zinc, antimony, heavy mineral sands - titanium-zirconium-rare earth elements - magmatic zirconium, platinum group elements and tungsten.

The Critical Minerals and High-Tech Metals Strategy was met with enthusiasm by all parties.

It is supposed to complement the NSW government's previously released Strategies for Coal and for Minerals.

However, newly promoted deputy premier Toole had already got off on the wrong foot with the coal industry by ruling out his support of exploration of an area north of Rylstone that his predecessor John Barilaro promoted as a potential coal area for the region.

Toole insisted to his good mates in the rural lobby that he would ask the cabinet not to support the project.

"I take that view because of what I've seen already shows that there are issues around commerciality of the project and also there are social issues around the project," he said.

"This still fits in line with our government's commitment to future of coal statement - acknowledging that coal needs to be put into those areas that are appropriate.

"But I can tell you now that I'll be taking a proposal to my colleagues to rule it out."

It was up to NSW deputy secretary for mining, exploration and geoscience Georgina Beattie to reassure the coal industry that it had not been forgotten in the excitement to push critical minerals.

"Critical minerals will play a crucial role in reducing emissions, given the direct role of critical minerals in the manufacture of components for renewable energy technologies like batteries, solar panels and wind turbines," she said.

"Securing those supply chains is vital to securing a low-emissions future.

"It is important to note that while we're championing the emergence of a new sector, coal prices remain high, market demand is strong and as part of our Future of Coal Statement, we will continue to support coal exploration and mining in existing areas."

Hogsback is not denying critical minerals will be in great demand in the future.

It would just be nice if good old coal was not completely relegated to the dust bin of history before its time.