16 June 2022
BHP today announced it will close its last thermal coal mine, Mt Arthur in NSW’s Hunter Valley, by the end of the 2030 financial year.
This is an important and pleasing departure from BHP’s previous plans and actions relating to its fossil fuel assets, which have largely been to sell them off to companies with no intention of managing down production in line with global climate goals.
Today’s announcement shows just how quickly the tide is turning against the thermal coal mining industry. Just last year BHP was looking for approval to extend the life of Mt Arthur to 2045 while trying to find a buyer for the mine.
Now BHP must show true leadership by demonstrating a well-managed decline for a fossil fuel asset, one that delivers a just transition for workers and an impeccably remediated site. All eyes will be on the company to ensure it delivers these outcomes at Mt Arthur, and commits to Paris-aligned wind down plans for its remaining metallurgical coal assets.
Market Forces coordinated a shareholder resolution at BHP’s 2021 AGM, calling on the company to manage down all fossil fuel assets in line with a net zero emissions by 2050 scenario. While these new plans for Mt Arthur go some way towards meeting the requests of that resolution, BHP still intends to expand and extend the life of some of its metallurgical coal mines.
Market Forces has been heavily critical of BHP’s moves to sell fossil fuel assets to companies with no intention of managing them down in line with global climate goals. This includes the recent deal to hand BHP’s petroleum business to Woodside, and sale of some metallurgical coal mines to Stanmore Coal.