Protestors call on Felix Ellis to reject proposed mine; Mining conference is disrupted at Hobart Convention Centre

This morning, members of Grassroots Action Network Tasmania (GRANT) gathered outside the Tasmanian Parliament to call on resources minister Felix Ellis to refrain from approving the imminent lease renewal for Dave Hodgson’s planned coal mine near Fingal, which plans to extract one million tonnes of coal annually, tripling current Tasmanian coal production level. By unsuccessfully attempting to clean lumps of coal, they highlighted Hodgson’s unsubstantiated claims of using the mine’s coal to produce ‘green hydrogen,’ a term generally understood to refer to hydrogen produced from renewable energy, not coal.

Hodgson, a former military combatant with the Sealous Scouts, a Rhodesian special forces unit notorious for killing civilians and their use of biological weapons, has claimed the project will fulfil God’s will to clean up the coal industry. He states that his recently rebranded company Hydrogen Ready Carbon Mining’s coal will be used to produce green hydrogen through an undisclosed and disputed process, likely reliant on carbon capture and storage (CCS), an increasingly controversial technology with little demonstrated efficacy. HRCM claims the coal will be used in a hydrogen production facility at Bell Bay from March 2024, despite the fact that no application for such a facility has been lodged.

Also this morning, activists disrupted the Tasmanian Minerals, Manufacturing & Energy Council annual conference at the Wrest Point Casino, holding a banner reading ‘No Profits on a Dead Planet.’

GRANT member Marie Fuller said “We’re calling on the Resources Minister Felix Ellis to turn down HRCM’s lease renewal. Opening a new coal mine in the midst of a climate crisis, while we are seeing so many countries suffering unprecedented heat waves and devastating fires, is a crime against humanity. No amount of greenwash can hide the fact that coal is coal; there’s nothing clean or green about it. If the Rockliff government decides to permit this to go ahead, the community must mobilise to stop it in its tracks.”

Tom Allen for the Wilderness Society Tasmania said “After weeks of record-breaking climate chaos, will the Rockliff Government really greenlight a new million-tonne coal mine in Lutruwita/Tasmania by renewing the lease? Will it really undercut Tasmania’s emergent clean hydrogen industry with greenwashed high-emissions coal-generated hydrogen?”

“What makes the possible greenlighting of this coal mine worse is that the lease overlaps a native forest nature reserve converted to a logging tenure that borders to Douglas-Apsley National Park. Instead of logging and mining this still-stolen land, the best thing the Rockliff Government could do is immediately return it to its rightful owners, the Palawa People.”

This project follows similar failed attempts to establish new coal mines in Tasmania, including the Midlands coal project whose lease was not renewed following public opposition. A poll commissioned at the time suggested that 61% percent of Tasmanians were opposed to new coal mines in the state.