Reports of the coal industry’s death are greatly exaggerated: Macfarlane

As the precarious balance between regional Queensland’s pleas for job certainty and inner Brisbane’s Green stances wobbled, the Bowen Basin Mining Club’s May luncheon last week presented a different view of the mining industry.

With David Diamond, Anglo American’s Head of Country and Ian Macfarlane, Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive presenting at the luncheon, a common theme emerged in the need to speak up about the industry’s green shoots.

Mr Diamond spoke of the recent shift in Anglo American’s fortunes and the move away from selling Bowen Basin assets after a record year of production, following an increased focus on safety, productive operations and cost management.

“If Anglo American has learned anything over the past 15 months, it’s that we operate in one of the toughest industries there is. As a business, if you’re safe, highly productive and have tight cost control, you’ll live to fight another day.”

“Mining shouldn’t be about booms and lows – we’ve seen how damaging that can be to the industry. Moving forward, the industry should take the position it’s in now and create balance and a secure future.”

For Anglo American, that newly revitalised future and focus comes down to investment in the right talent.

“It’s up to us to take the front foot in changing perceptions of the industry, particularly to get new talent in the door. We have to tell our own story and get the right people on board – simply scaling up and producing more is not enough,” said Mr Diamond.

Telling a new story was the focus of Mr Macfarlane’s speech, following a tough week for mining.

“Contrary to popular belief, coal consumption is far from decreasing - last year, Australia exported a record amount of coal. Not only is coal an important part of a balanced energy mix worldwide – it’s vital in the production of steel.”

“Even electric cars can’t be produced without coal. Renewable energy is part of our future, but that future isn’t possible without the resource industry,” said Mr Macfarlane.

The prevalence of ‘fake news’ disparaging the industry was a hot topic of discussion, with the example of magnetite on beaches near Abbot Point being widely reported as a coal spill following Cyclone Debbie.

“Too often, the industry doesn’t respond to this fake news, and so it goes unchallenged. When foreign-funded groups tell blatant lies in the media, we need to bring them back to the honest, scientific facts. If the industry doesn’t speak up, lies and misrepresentation will be our legacy,” said Mr Macfarlane.

Bowen Basin Mining Club Director Jodie Currie says a sense of perspective on the industry’s importance helps to counter any popular negativity.

“Attending industry events and being informed about what’s happening is key to being able to effectively advocate for the resources industry and counter fake news – whether that’s with clients, your local MP or at a backyard BBQ,” said Ms Currie.

The next BBMC luncheon will be held on July 28th in Mackay, featuring a QCoal project update. Tickets are on sale now via www.bbminingclub.com.
 

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