Mayur’s claims for coal fired power don’t stack up

Eddie Tanago | ACT NOW!

Mayur Resources justifications for building an expensive and polluting coal-fired power station in PNG are irresponsible, condescending, illogical and faintly ridiculous.

The truth is a coal-powered plant does’t make sense on economic, environmental or human rights grounds and for PNG and the Pacific, coal power would represent a terrible step backwards.

Mulder has claimed a coal fired power station is necessary to provide PNG with a failsafe in the event of a major earthquake or prolonged drought. 

This overlooks the fact the power station will rely on a large network of overhead power lines to distribute its electricity and those will be very vulnerable to earthquakes and its coal supply will be dependent on river barges which could be grounded in the event of drought.

Mulder’s analysis also ignore the fact there are better, cheaper and more technologically appropriate options to provide power both to rural communities and urban dwellers.

Small-scale local solar and hydroelectric schemes make much better sense in PNG, and these are the options being pursued by the PNG Electrification Partnership which is backed by the United States, Japan, New Zealand and Australian governments.

We are a nation of 800 tribes and 800 languages. Our unique cultures have endured because of our rugged geography, unpredictable climate and volatile geology. Community based power solutions make perfect sense and can help empower rural people to take charge of their own development.

Meanwhile, analysis from the World Bank suggests the cost of burning coal to produce electricity in PNG would be more expensive than the major renewable alternatives; hydropower and biomass. It would also be more costly than using locally produced natural gas.

ACT NOW! is also concerned by the human rights impacts of Mayur’s plans, as there is no evidence the company has engaged in proper community consultation or obtained the consent of people living around the proposed power station site.

Mayur's claim that it has engaged with local communities because 3,000 people turned out to hear Mayur ambassador Darren Lockyer speak at Unitech in Lae, is completey laughable. Just because people turned out to see a rugby league legend and always greet Lockyer 'with open arms', as he says, doesn’t mean they understand the economic, social and environmental impacts of a coal-fired power station on their doorstep.

Unfortunately this is not the only example of Mayur’s arrogant and condescending attitude to PNG and its people. 

Mayur CEO Paul Mulder has claimed coal is good for PNG because 70% of Australia’s electricity is generated from burning coal as is 70% of the electricity in China.

This ignores the fact China is the world’s worst carbon polluter and Australia has the second biggest carbon footprint per capita in the world. Those are records that PNG does not want to emulate. 

Mulder has also failed to talk about the fact that in the UK, the government has promised to shut-down all its coal-powered electricity plants by 2025 as it looks to move its economy onto a green and sustainable footing.