A new mining industry pamphlet advertises ‘climate action’ to young jobseekers – while dodging the massive carbon footprint of Australian coal

A new mining industry pamphlet advertises ‘climate action’ to young jobseekers – while dodging the massive carbon footprint of Australian coal
  • A new pamphlet for young jobseekers, created by the Minerals Council of Australia, boasts of the sector’s green credentials.
  • Australian miners stands to benefit from the green energy revolution by exporting minerals used in electric vehicles, solar arrays, and wind tubines.
  • But the pamphlet carefully avoids the outsized carbon emissions of Australian coal, which remains a key export.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

A new Minerals Council of Australia careers guide states mining is integral to the green energy transition, without addressing the massive greenhouse gas emissions from Australian coal burnt worldwide.

In a new pamphlet aimed at school-leavers, released on Tuesday, the powerful industry group espouses the the mining sector’s green credentials to young Australians working out their next steps.

Brandished with phrases like “climate action” and “why mining matters for a zero emissions future,” the Minerals Council pamphlet carries references to climate change, green energy, and sustainable land management on 16 of its 44 pages.

The pamphlet highlights the importance of Australian minerals to wind turbines, solar panels, battery storage, the booming electric vehicle market, suggesting “there has never been a better time to consider a career in Australian mining.”

via Minerals Council of Australia

Australian miners are poised to benefit from the global transition to green energy, due to the nation’s unique wealth of lithium, copper, cobalt, rare earths, and other minerals vital to next-generation technology.

But in a section titled “How mining is tackling climate change”, the pamphlet focuses on efforts to reduce emissions at mining sites and pledges by resource giants to reach net zero emissions by 2050 — instead of directly addressing the emissions caused worldwide by the burning of Australian thermal and metallurgical coal.

The International Energy Agency states Australia was the world’s second biggest coal exporter in 2020. Separate analysis suggests greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of Australian coal in 2020 were double that of the nation’s domestic greenhouse gas footprint.

The Minerals Council of Australia does address the importance of clamping down on emissions, stating that “reducing emissions from the use of fossil fuels and other industrial processes is an important component of achieving a low carbon economy.”

Yet that admission comes during an explanation of coal miner Glencore’s efforts to trap greenhouse gases from its operations and bury them underground, instead of intentionally winding back its thermal coal operations.

via Minerals Council of Australia

Other sections appear to ignore emissions caused later in the resource lifecycle.

The pamphlet describes the capture of methane at Anglo American’s metallurgical coal mines in Moranbah North, Grosvenor and Capcoal, “reducing [Anglo American’s] emissions by about 5 million tonnes per annum.”

But no mention is given to the emissions caused by the power stations which use that captured methane as an energy source.

The pamphlet’s hands-off approach to the emissions caused by Australian coal cuts across the findings from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy, and Resources, which has flagged the “global energy uptake of new and low emissions technologies” as potentially disruptive to coal exports over the next five years.

That transition may be accelerated by the findings of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which found some physical impacts of climate change, including those facing Australia, are now unavoidable.

To stave off further drastic impacts in our lifetimes, United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres said, “this report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.”

Department figures state thermal coal export values will hit $17 billion in 2021-2022.

However, the federal government also predicts “Australia’s exports of commodities central to these technologies — lithium, nickel and copper — are set to surge,” with export revenue forecast to surpass that of thermal coal in 2025-2026.

In that way, the pamphlet may be spot-on accurate – even if it glances over the power sources which green energy will replace.