what would you prefer in your back yard – a coal mine or a wind farm?
Since 1961 Alcoa has been operating a coal mine just inland from Anglesea on Victoria’s Surf Coast. The mine and attached power station provides energy for the Point Henry smelter, which produces aluminium for local use and export.
Under the original 1961 lease conditions, Alcoa has an automatic option to mine the site for another 50 years, but the company is currently in negotiations with the State government about a substantial expansion of it’s open cut mine. They are seeking a license to operate for another 50 years.
This is at the same time that the government has said it will close off the surrounding area to wind energy developments.
The coal mine negotiations have understandably raised many health and amenity concerns amongst locals. The mine will further destroy the heritage listed heathlands, an ecological asset which is recognised internationally, that exist on the mining lease. Up to an extra 600 hectares could be subjected to open cut mining.
A range of groups, including the local energy group Surf Coast Energy Group and Angair, the local 40 year old flora and fauna group, plus state level environmental organisations like Friends of the Earth and The Greens are opposing the expansion.
Because a re-newed license would lock the Surf Coast into another 50 years of polluting coal production, we believe that the Surf Coast and surrounding area currently stands at a cross roads in terms of how the region should develop.
Tourism now provides far more jobs than coal mining (accommodation, food and retail are the top three employers) and the Surf Coast is the ‘home’ of Australian surfing. People are drawn to the coast – to live, work, visit and surf – because of it’s sublime environment and clean air and water. An expanded mine will create more greenhouse and other pollution, dust in the township of Anglesea, local health impacts, and further loss of precious heathland environments.
The good news is that, with the right policy and incentives, the Surf Coast, Bellarine Peninsula and surrounding regions could easily produce as much energy as the coal mine from renewable and other clean energy sources.
Please check here for details on what the clean energy options are for the region.
Choosing a clean energy future would further enhance the Surf Coasts reputation as a green and forward thinking community. It would also bring new investment and opportunities to the region. The combined industries in Geelong make it one of the most energy intensive towns in the country. It is vital that the community shows support for a practical transition for these industries to renewable energy, which includes the Alcoa smelter. The Surf Coast is ideally situated for new renewable energy projects.
Anglesea is a great place to live. It also relies on people visiting and staying to keep the local economy healthy. Who wants to visit a town with a coal mine literally in its backyard?
If you are concerned about what an enlarged coal mine will mean to you, your family and your community, please contact the Premier and the Planning Minister.
You can find a suggested letter here.
Or just write in your own words why you are concerned. Please express your opposition to the expansion of the mine and your support for the development of job-rich renewable energy like wind and geothermal.
The Hon. Ted Baillieu
Premier of Victoria
The Hon. Matthew Guy MLC
Minister for Planning
further information & getting active
Anglesea Air Action, together with the Surf Coast Energy Group, is a group of residents who do not support the State Government’s plan to renew the Alcoa Anglesea mining lease for a further 50 years.
You can find more information on the campaign here. The website also has a petition.
Prepared by Friends of the Earth
About the coal mine
The Mines (Aluminum Agreement) Act of 1961 granted Alcoa a 50 year exclusive right to explore and mine over some 7,350 hectares of leasehold land in the region.
The coal at Anglesea has a high quality heat value when compared to other brown coals used to produce electricity in Victoria, but has a much higher level of sulphur of around 3%, resulting in high levels of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions.
Carbon Monitoring for Action estimates this power station emits 1.21 million tonnes of greenhouse gases each year as a result of burning coal.
The Anglesea station draws its cooling water from six sub-artesian well bores, supplemented with rainwater.
Health impacts of SO2
The main health effect of SO2 is to impair the function of the upper respiratory system. High concentrations of sulfur dioxide can affect breathing, cause respiratory illnesses, and aggravate existing heart and lung diseases. Exposure at very low concentrations can irritate the lungs and throat and cause bronchitis. Exposure to low levels of SO2 over a long period depletes the respiratory system’s ability to defend against bacteria and foreign particles. Particularly sensitive groups include children, the elderly, people with asthma, and those with heart or lung disease.