New Hope is an Australian-based undiversified coal mining company deriving more than 95% of revenue from the sale of thermal coal.

Despite there being no room for new or expanded coal mines if we’re to achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement or net zero emissions by 2050, New Hope is pursuing a major expansion of its New Acland coal mine on some of Queensland’s best farming land.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), reaching net zero emissions by 2050 means no new coal mines or expansions can proceed. Meanwhile, scientists are clear that limiting global warming to 1.5ºC means 95% of Australia’s coal must stay in the ground.

New Hope was funded by a group of five Australian and international banks via a $600 million loan in 2018. Most of Australia’s top 40 super funds are also yet to rule out investment in New Hope. Many of these financial institutions claim to support the Paris Agreement and goal of net zero emissions by 2050 yet have continued to support a company pursuing new coal projects inconsistent with these goals.

As the latest climate science makes clear, there is no time to waste. It’s time for these banks and super funds to walk away from New Hope.

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Acland Rally - 8 Aug 2017 - Qld Parliament

Protestors rally outside Queensland’s parliament against the New Acland coal mine expansion. Credit: Lock the Gate

Banks that have loaned to New Hope

In November 2018, a group of five lenders provided a $600 million loan to New Hope, a company still pursuing expansion of the climate-wrecking coal industry. Concerningly, their policies fail to prevent providing further funding to New Hope.

wdt_ID Name Amount loaned in 2018 [1] Ruled out funding New Hope? [2] Explanation [3]
1 Australia and New Zealand Bank (ANZ) Undisclosed No

Failed to rule out finance for New Hope

4 National Australia Bank (NAB) Undisclosed No

Failed to rule out finance for New Hope

5 Macquarie Bank Undisclosed No

In May 2021 Macquarie Bank announced it “expects” to exit coal by 2024. While it would be very difficult for Macquarie to meet this deadline if it provides further funds to New Hope (including renewal of its existing loan), this is an expectation rather than a commitment.

6 Mizuho Bank Undisclosed No

Failed to rule out finance for New Hope

9 Caterpillar Finance Corporation Undisclosed No

Failed to rule out finance for New Hope

Table notes
[1] It is unknown how much each bank committed to the loan. If it’s assumed the $600 million loan was evenly split among the lenders, each lender would have committed $120 million.

[2] To qualify, the bank must have ruled out providing any finance for New Hope through an on-record public statement (e.g. policy document, media release, public comment in an article etc).

[3] While ANZ and Mizuho have ruled out finance for new thermal coal mining projects, the banks have failed to rule out funding for coal companies such as New Hope. (While NAB claims it will no longer fund new thermal coal mining projects, it has breached this policy and in any case remains open to funding coal companies such as New Hope.) Any lending to New Hope, whether characterised as being for new or existing projects, supports an undiversified coal miner pursuing new coal projects.

Super funds failing to rule out investment in New Hope

Despite several of Australia’s biggest super funds having divested from New Hope, 26 of the top 40 funds by assets under management have failed to publicly disclose any fund-wide divestment or exclusion of coal companies (or plans to do so). A further three funds have policies in place that would likely see a reduction in investment exposure to coal companies like New Hope, but these policies are not fund-wide exclusions.

Is your super fund one of the laggards that still hasn’t ruled out investment in New Hope? Check the list below and take action! You can also find out more about super funds’ investments in coal, oil and gas companies via our super funds comparison table.

  • ACSRF
  • AMP
  • APSS (Australia Post Superannuation Scheme)
  • BT Financial Group (BT Super)
  • CareSuper
  • Cbus
  • Colonial First State
  • CommBank Group Super
  • Energy Super (now merged with LGIA Super)
  • Equipsuper (including Catholic Super)
  • HOSTPlus
  • HUB24
  • IOOF
  • LGIAsuper (now merged with Energy Super)
  • LUCRF
  • Macquarie
  • Mercer
  • Mine Super
  • MLC (owned by IOOF)
  • Netwealth Super
  • OnePath (now owned by IOOF)
  • Qantas Super
  • QSuper
  • Russell Investments
  • Spirit Super (formed after the merger between MTAA Super and Tasplan Super)
  • Statewide Super
  • Suncorp
  • Sunsuper
  • TWU Super

Take action using the form on this page if you’re with one of these super funds.

TAKE ACTION!

Tell your super fund that it must rule out investment in New Hope:

Planning for climate catastrophe

Many of the banks funding New Hope have publicly stated their support for the Paris Agreement and the goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. The International Energy Agency has confirmed that reaching net zero emissions by 2050 means no new coal mines or expansions can proceed:

“No new coal mines or extensions of existing ones are needed in the [Net Zero Emissions scenario] as coal demand declines precipitously.”

International Energy Agency

May 2021

The current state of climate science means we should be aiming for net zero emissions far sooner than 2050 if we want to limit global warming to 1.5ºC. To achieve this goal, 95% of Australia’s coal reserves must stay in the ground and global coal production must decrease 11% each year between 2020 and 2030.

In stark contrast, New Hope plans to spend around $900 million on its New Acland Stage 3 coal expansion. New Hope has determined there’s a further 200 million tonnes of coal reserves at New Acland, and Stage 3 would increase the mine’s production capacity to 7.5 million tonnes per year and extend its production life by 12 years.

Beyond New Acland, New Hope has assessed 231 million tonnes of coal reserves at its Lenton, Elimatta and Taroom coal exploration sites. This brings New Hope’s total assessed coal reserves of its potential expansion projects to around 430 million tonnes. If all this coal was burned, it would release 1 billion tonnes of carbon emissions, or nearly twice Australia’s annual CO2 emissions.

These coal reserves are in addition to New Hope’s near 150 million tonnes assessed for the company’s existing Bengalla coal mine, which is licensed to extract up to 15 million tonnes of coal per year until 2039.

New Hope’s coal expansion plans are clearly inconsistent with the goal of net zero emissions by 2050 and the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C warming limit.

New Hope Group's Bengalla coal mine, 2014.

Mining operations at the Bengalla mine. Credit: D Sewell

Coal markets drying up

New Hope derives more than 95% of its revenue from the sale of thermal coal (i.e. coal burned to produce electricity), despite its own claims to be a “diverse” energy company. At the company’s 2021 annual general meeting, New Hope’s chairman confirmed the company’s intention to continue sourcing this level of revenue from coal by 2030.

Almost 80% of the countries where New Hope’s customers are based, mostly in Asia including Japan and Taiwan, have now committed to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. According to the International Energy Agency, reducing emissions to net zero means unabated coal use (i.e. coal-fired power generation that doesn’t rely on speculative carbon capture and storage technologies) must fall by over 98% between 2021 and 2050. These net zero commitments therefore pose an existential risk to New Hope’s business model.

However, in an apparent failure of climate risk management, New Hope did not refer to the IEA’s net zero scenario even once in its 2021 Sustainability Report. Instead, New Hope refers only to the IEA’s Stated Policies Scenario (consistent with around 2.7ºC of global warming) and Sustainable Development Scenario (consistent with net zero emissions by 2070).

Destroying prime farmland and local communities

The New Acland Stage 3 expansion is one of the most contested coal mining projects in Australian history.

The mine is situated in Queensland’s fertile Darling Downs, on and around land considered as among the best 1.5% of agricultural land in Queensland. New Hope’s Stage 3 expansion would dig three vast new coal pits, destroying land that has sustained generations of dairy and cattle farmers.

Aside from the physical destruction of this prime farming land, there is deep community concern about the impact of the mine on local groundwater aquifers. According to the Oakey Coal Action Alliance, around 20,000 hectares of cropping land surrounding the mine is at risk of permanent groundwater impacts. Despite several rounds of water modelling revisions, expert scientists remained unconvinced by New Hope’s final water management plans.

Large coal mines pose a huge threat to our water sources. At a time when droughts are being turbo-charged by global warming, there is no justification for allowing massive new coal pits on prime agricultural land.

New Hope Corp's New Acland coal mine, February 2016

The New Acland coal mine on Queensland’s fertile Darling Downs. Credit: Lock the Gate

Splashing out to promote climate-wrecking coal

Data released in May 2021 shows New Hope splurged over $650,000 on the 2020 Queensland election. The bulk of the company’s expenditure was on advertising, marketing and public relations advice, as New Hope appeared to seek to pressure the Queensland Government to grant approvals for an expansion of the New Acland coal mine.

This isn’t the first time New Hope has engaged in political spending while seeking approvals for coal expansions. Between 2010 and 2013, while the company was seeking initial approvals relating to New Acland Stage 3, New Hope and its then parent company Washington H Soul Pattinson donated a combined $700,000 to the Queensland Liberal National Party and the federal Liberal Party.

The influence of fossil fuel corporations like New Hope over our democracy is wrecking our climate. Market Forces’ analysis has consistently revealed fossil fuel companies are huge donors to Australia’s political parties.

Source: Compiled from Electoral Commission Queensland, Election Summary Return – New Hope Corporation Limited (May 2021).

Breaking the law

New Hope’s operations at New Acland have a history of breaking environmental laws. In 2018, the company was fined by the Queensland government for drilling 27 illegal water bores. In 2020, documents obtained under freedom of information laws revealed New Hope had been caught breaking noise limits on its operations 34 separate times in a 10 week period. As of December 2021, New Hope remained under investigation by the Queensland Government for allegedly mining $500 million worth of coal outside its approved open-cut pit boundaries.

This dirty coal corporation simply can’t be trusted – with our climate, water or environmental laws. It’s time for New Hope’s banks to walk away.

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Page last updated February 2022. Unless otherwise specified, all currencies are in AUD.

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