18 November 2016
Queensland coal miner New Hope Group owns the New Acland, West Moreton and Bengalla coal mines. As a pure-play coal miner that’s currently trying to expand its Acland operations, New Hope’s current business model is completely out of step with global efforts to curb carbon emissions to reign in dangerous climate change.
The company is clearly struggling to justify its dirty operations to the public, having been forced to pay employees to attend a pro-coal rally in Brisbane on November 1.
At New Hope’s annual general meeting on Thursday some shareholders asked what the future holds for a company whose only product must be phased out as soon as possible. New Hope’s nonsensical answers were not reassuring.
On November 9, Australia ratified the Paris Agreement, which had entered into force a few days before. As a country we are now legally obliged to do our bit to keep global warming below two degrees. Science tells us this warming limit will require at least 80% of all known fossil fuel reserves be left in the ground. For Australian thermal coal, this number jumps up to around 95%. Check out our info page to learn more about unburnable carbon.
For a pure-play coal company like New Hope, the carbon budget could mean millions of shareholder dollars wasted on exploration or stranded assets – mines where production is stopped well before the intended closure. Shareholders concerned about loss of capital on coal investments asked for the board’s view on when changes to the current value of the company’s assets might occur.
New Hope’s response was straight out of the coal industry public relations songbook. Their coal is cleaner that other people’s coal and it would help the poor. No evidence was provided as to how continuing to burn coal fits in with the plan for preventing catastrophic climate change (because it doesn’t) and no recognition that renewable energy was now competitive with fossil fuel-generated electricity and prefered by the poor who are sick of copping the pollution caused by coal and gas.
A similar response came when questioned on India and China’s shift away from coal, in part due to their terrible air pollution problems. Apparently air pollution isn’t caused by burning coal, but by burning coal that isn’t New Hope’s coal. New Hope’s coal is clean and smoking low-tar cigarettes is good for you too!
New Hope stated that they have no plans for diversifying out of coal. Like many fossil fuel companies they are in denial about the impact on their business from emissions reduction policies and renewable energy technologies. Like most other coal companies they go on about their coal being cleaner than everyone else’s. Their lack of a plan for dealing with the structural decline of the thermal coal market should be ringing alarm bells for all of their shareholders.
Is your super invested in New Hope Group?
Head to superswitch.org.au to find out and take action to make your retirement savings fossil fuel free!