Carbon Pricing: First Reaction
South Australian Premier Mike Rann spent yesterday touring the Upper Spencer Gulf – that is, Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Pirie – the areas that Tony Abbott predicts will now be wiped out by a carbon pricing regime.
Mike Rann reports that OneSteel is eligible for a high rate of assistance and for $300 million to encourage investment and innovation in the steel industry. The assistance flows because OneSteel in Whyalla is classed as emissions-intensive, trade-exposed industry.
In Port Augusta Premier Rann met the mayor and spoke about the future of the Alinta-owned power stations. Alinta made it clear that the Northern Power Station will not close and neither will the Lee Creek coal mine which is expected to remain viable and productive until 2030. Alinta has said it intends closing the older and dirtier Playford coal-fired power station, but they will replace it with a gas-fired plant – this shift from carbon to cleaner fuel being the purpose of pricing carbon in the first place.
Then in Port Pirie the Premier detected only confidence about the future of Nyrstar smelter, which has plans to modernise their lead, zinc and silver operations to reduce lead and carbon emissions.
“The Upper Spencer Gulf Cities will also greatly benefit from the increased mining activity in South Australia, which has seen the number of mines increase from four to 17 in the past nine years, with another 30 in various stages of development.”
Meanwhile the joint bid by Peabody Energy and ArcelorMittal for Queensland’s Macarthur Coal – the biggest coal takeover in Australian history – settles Abbott’s scare campaigning in one blow.
Official government figures confirm that across Queensland and NSW there is $15.9 billion of coal projects, including rail and port works, that have started construction,. This activity is based on expected growth of more than 60 percent between now and 2015/16.
Yet The Australian today says this is just the tip of the iceberg and quotes another $20 billion in coal expansion plans.
The Abbott fear rhetoric already sounds hollow.