The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) is commenting on the decision by the NSW government to deem South32’s (ASX:S32) Dendrobium coal mine expansion “State Significant Infrastructure”.
The Independent Planning Commission (IPC) rejected the proposal in February 2021.
Commenting on the announcement, Dan Gocher, Director of Climate & Environment at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) said:
“This decision reeks of state capture. South32 and the NSW Minerals Council lobbied the NSW Government for months to overturn the rejection of the Dendrobium expansion.
“Despite committing to shareholders in October that its industry associations would advocate in line with the Paris Agreement, South32 engaged climate change deniers in Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and the Nationals to push the NSW government to by-pass the IPC.
“The IPC found that the proposed Dendrobium project “risks long-term and irreversible damage to Greater Sydney and the Illawarra’s drinking water catchment.”
“The extension of the Dendrobium mine could drain 7-8 billion litres of drinking water from the Illawarra-Sydney catchment area each year, destroying fragile wetlands sitting above the site.
“Despite these risks, the NSW Government has simply rolled over for the coal industry.
“The NSW Minerals Council has consistently sought to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic by advocating for the fast-tracking of new and expanded coal and gas projects under the guise of economic recovery.
“BlueScope Steel is no innocent party in this affair either, having lobbied NSW Government ministers multiple times throughout 2021.
“The IEA’s recent ‘Net zero by 2050’ report concluded that we cannot afford to develop any new or expanded fossil fuel projects if we are to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
“Investors must take action to ensure that companies and industry associations’ lobbying is consistent with the Paris Agreement.”
At its AGM in October, the board of South32 supported ACCR’s shareholder resolution calling on the company to suspend its membership of industry associations whose advocacy is inconsistent with the Paris Agreement.