NSW Minerals Council lists 13 NSW export coal projects to boost a COVID-hit economy

EXPANSION PLANS: The 13 projects listed here are at various stages of the NSW government's approvals process, the NSW Minerals Council says.

EXPANSION PLANS: The 13 projects listed here are at various stages of the NSW government's approvals process, the NSW Minerals Council says.

THIRTEEN projects that would produce coal for export through the Port of Newcastle are part of a new list of 32 mining projects the NSW Minerals Council is promoting as job creators for a NSW economy struggling under the weight of COVID-19.

The projects are contained in a new report, Mining for the Recovery, published on Thursday, and expanding on a similar document, Mine or Miss Out, released in November 2018.

Both reports are subtitled Seizing Opportunities for Jobs and Investment in NSW.

Although the Australian iron ore industry has been going gangbusters this year thanks to a strong recovery in Chinese steelmaking after that country's coronavirus downturn, the coal industry has been having a harder time, especially with thermal coal for power stations that accounts for about 85 per cent of Newcastle exports.

The latest edition of Australian Coal Report looked at this week's quarterly report from BHP to find it was likely to have lost $US45 million at its Mount Arthur mine in the three months to June 30, after booking a half-year loss of $US50 million in the six months to the end of December 2019.

This contrasts with Mount Arthur's 2019 financial year earnings (before income tax and depreciation) of $US353 million.

Prices have risen and fallen dramatically in recent years, but the industry says the swings are nothing unusual for a cyclical commodity, and will eventually return to more profitable levels.

Mining for Recovery predicts coal demand will hold up for the next 30 years, "with falls in some markets to be partially offset by increases in others".

It does, however, acknowledge "a range of possible scenarios", and says "the impact of COVID-19 on medium term energy demand is also yet to be seen".

"Overall, these 32 project proposals demonstrate how the NSW mining sector can deliver billions in investment, thousands of jobs and economic growth needed to help rebuild our state in the years ahead, and with the right policies in place to support mining we will do so," minerals council chief executive Stephen Galilee said.

He said the 32 projects were valued at $13 billion and would create 13,000 jobs.

A breakdown of the 13 Newcastle export coal projects, set out in the table above, shows they would cost almost $4 billion to build, add almost $3.5 billion to NSW Treasury coffers and provide more than 7300 jobs.

A summary of project values from the Mining for Recovery report.

A summary of project values from the Mining for Recovery report.

Mr Galilee said the report drew on all of the major mining projects that were in the NSW planning system, from the early stage of having submitted an environmental impact statement through to those that were approved but still seeking other documentation before they could start.

The report comes a month after Deputy Premier John Barilaro travelled to Yancoal's Mount Thorley/Warkworth operation to unveil a new "strategic statement" on coalmining and exploration, which was applauded by the industry but received more warily in environmental circles.

The minerals council said none of the exploration areas identified for "fast-tracking" by the strategy were included in the new report, because development applications had not been lodged.