The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) is commenting on BHP’s announcement to the ASX that it will abandon the divestment of the Mt Arthur thermal coal mine in NSW. BHP had proposed to extend the life of the mine by 19 years (to 2045) as part of efforts to divest the asset. Now, BHP is seeking to extend the Mt Arthur Coal mine to FY2030 and close the asset itself. It is expected that rehabilitation works will run for 10-15 years following mine closure.
Commenting on BHP’s NSW divestment review update, Harriet Kater, Climate Lead (Australia) at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) said:
“Following repeated concerns raised by investors, ACCR and civil society, BHP has finally made the right call by abandoning its pursuit of the Mt Arthur thermal coal mine extension to 2045 and its plans to divest the mine.
“Use of asset divestment as a tool to lower carbon footprints and avoid responsible closure is not acceptable.
“BHP has sat on this decision for far too long. If it had been willing to act sooner, affected communities would have avoided a prolonged period of uncertainty and the mine extension from 2026 to FY2030 could have been avoided.
“The IEA Net Zero scenario stated there can be no new coal mines or extensions from 2021 so the decision to still seek a mine life extension from 2026 to 2030 is completely inconsistent with the Paris Agreement and limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.
“The approach to closure, affected workers and communities will be a big test for BHP. Investors expect BHP to commit to decarbonising in accordance with just transition principles.
“The current US$700M provision for closure does not appear to match the enormous scale of the likely clean up bill. BHP has an opportunity to draw on the returns from current record high thermal coal prices to properly fund high quality remediation.
“We remain concerned that BHP is still seeking to open a new greenfield coal mine, Blackwater South, to operate for 90 years in Queensland. It’s time for BHP to stop proposing new and expanded coal mines.
“Investors will continue to keep BHP accountable for its coal mining impacts and expansion plans.”