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Authority grants ‘extraordinary’ powers to declare coal ‘essential’

BMA Australia

Producing and transporting fossil fuels could soon be classified as vitally important work.

New South Wales Governor Margaret Beazley recently granted State Energy Minister Matt Kean emergency powers to control coal supplies due to the ongoing energy crisis.

The extraordinary measure means Kean, who is also state treasurer, can theoretically declare supplying and distributing coal is an “essential service”. The minister can also order mining companies to deliver more product to coal-fired power stations anytime before mid-July 2022.

“Right now fuel security is fine but we are just putting those powers aside and on standby if we need them,” the Liberal said according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“We are just taking a proactive step that will support us if there are issues with fuel security [and] if there are issues with logistics in getting fuel to the site of the generators.”

The remarks came after the Australian Energy Market Operator urged the minister to seek special authority to ramp-up coal operations.

“We are just giving ourselves all the levers we need to give the community certainty that we are doing everything we can to keep the system going,” Kean said according to the broadcaster.

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) suggests the State Government is perfectly within its legal rights to call coal an important commodity.

“Coal is a critical building block for development, an important energy source for electricity generation and essential in the production of alumina, iron, steel and cement – and other energy intensive products vital for modern life,” the MCA website said.

The council estimates 85 per cent of the world’s cement is partly made from coal.

“Coal is an essential raw material for iron and steel production and is the key energy fuel used in the production of cement, aluminium and other highly energy-intensive industrial products essential to building modern economies and urban infrastructure,” it said.

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