Climate activists protest coal mine expansion
Plans to open a new coal mine on council land are a betrayal, say protesters who halted operations at another company mine in Southland.
Thirty climate activists are on site at the Takitimu coal mine, owned by Bathurst Resources, near Nightcaps. The police are also at the mine.
The protest is aimed at Bathurst’s new project: the company is exploring for coal in a forest block owned by Southland District Council in Ohai.
A world-renowned climate science body recently concluded that coal use would need to drop by around 75% before the end of the decade to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The council’s decision to grant an exploration permit is currently being challenged in court.
* Hundreds of thousands of tons of coal under the Southland Forest Block
* What will happen to mining towns in a coal-free future?
* Coal exploration raises questions about the carbon impact of the forest block
Extinction Rebellion activist Erik Kennedy said that in the “profit or the planet game”, Bathurst consistently chooses profit. “Instead of letting their mines reach the end of their natural life, they are trying to open more mines.”
Takitimu has a “limited” life remaining. “If Bathurst is able to operate this new site…they could be mining coal out of the ground for a decade or more.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, one of the leading climate science bodies, recently concluded that currently discovered fossil fuel reserves, if burned, would put enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to exceed the global goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The International Energy Agency has come to a similar conclusion, saying fossil fuel exploration and expansion must stop immediately to put the world on a 1.5C path.
Kennedy said it was time to hold Bathurst to account. “You cannot expand your operations at a time like this.”
The protest is aimed at decision makers, those on boards of directors and elected officials in central and local government, Kennedy said. Minors themselves are not the focus.
“They are doing a job. They have careers that allow them to take care of the people they love: their family, their community. Likewise, we take care of our families and the global community that is going to have to deal with climate change, the whenua itself. We are all on the same side in that we care about things.
The government has also failed if communities such as Nightcaps feel there are limited career options outside of fossil fuel extraction, Kennedy said. Central and local governments cannot continue to kick the road.
“These jobs won’t last forever.
No one has created a plan, even at the highest level, to help these workers make the transition, he added.
“What will happen when the coal mine closes, who knows? Does Bathurst have a plan? Is the government investing in Southland to make post-coal living attractive? We need the government, the [Southland] The District Council and Bathurst need to step in and explain clearly what will happen once the coal runs out. Because it will happen. »
Police are monitoring protesters’ activities, a spokesperson said. “At this stage, there have been no issues or arrests.”
Protesters also criticized Fonterra, which burns coal to dry milk powder.
In 2020, the dairy giant converted a coal-fired boiler in Te Awamutu to burn wood pellets. This year, another small site will switch from coal to wood. Fonterra aims to end the use of coal by 2037, which aligns with the Commission’s draft trajectory on climate change to reach net zero by 2050.
Bathurst Resources and Fonterra have been contacted for comment.