Indigenous Coal Power Entrepreneurs Frustrated by Broken Promises and Lack of Support

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Collinsville
Collinsville, Queensland, Australia. By GreditdesuOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

h/t Chris Hanley; The Scott Morrison government promised millions of dollars for a feasibility study for an Australian Aboriginal initiative to build a new coal power plant in Queensland, to provide jobs and hope for their children. So far everyone has let them down.

Indigenous-run firm behind Collinsville coal-fired plant says Coalition used it ‘as a pawn’

Adam Morton Environment editor @adamlmorton
Fri 12 Jun 2020 03.30 AEST

Shine Energy, run by Indigenous traditional owners, is yet to receive $4m in funding and doubts support is genuine

The company behind a proposed new coal-fired power plant in Queenslandhas questioned whether the Coalition used it as a pawn to help win last year’s federal election, saying it is yet to receive $4m in funding and doubts whether support for the project is genuine.

Shine Energy, run by Indigenous traditional owners from Birri and Widi country, said it was not confident it would get the promised funding for a feasibility study into a 1,000 megawatt coal station at Collinsville despite four federal ministers releasing a statement in February confirming it had been awarded.

Ashley Dodd, Shine’s chief executive, said the Morrison government had pressured him to step aside from running the company, and accused the Coalition of trying to “white clad” the company by installing an “Anglo Saxon” in the leadership role. The government denies the allegation.

Dodd told Guardian Australia the company had submitted a pre-feasibility report to the government as required, but not been given a timeframe on when it would receive the funding. He said he was concerned the Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek might have been correct when she told Sky News the government’s support for the plant was a “scam” and a “press release designed to cover up their lack of energy policy”.

“I’m very, very upset. I’m starting to feel like we’ve been used to win the election,” Dodd said. “We put in all the hard work based on what the government said they would deliver to us but it has been a go slow by the department. We’re starting to really feel that we’ve been used as a pawn in a game.”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jun/12/company-behind-collinsville-power-plant-fears-it-was-used-by-coalition-to-win-election

I really feel for the traditional owners. Collinsville like much of rural Queensland has its share of problems, it is not a wealthy place. But they have a commercially valuable asset – there are large deposits of coal in the area.

A new coal plant to provide high paying jobs and hope for the children, and to supply the energy needs of local mines and industry, could have been a real game changer for the region.

Australia’s increasingly precarious energy grid could really use a new source of reliable energy. A new coal plant might mitigate the need to encourage energy intensive businesses to stop production, whenever the price of electricity spikes.

But it is looking increasingly likely the Collinsville entrepreneurs have been lied to, strung along for short term advantage by people who maybe never had any genuine intention of helping them.

41 thoughts on “Indigenous Coal Power Entrepreneurs Frustrated by Broken Promises and Lack of Support

  1. Why isn’t it happening? Does it have anything to do with CO2 emissions? Don’t let that stop this project from happening. This coal fired power plant can operate and emit less CO2 into the atmosphere than a natural gas power plant. We also have a few other “tricks” developed that will further increase the power plants energy efficiency.
    http://www.SidelGlobal.com

    • Sid,

      Even a state-of-the art ultra-supercritical coal power plant cannot get anywhere close to the CO2 emissions per MW-Hr of a natural gas combined cycle unit. A gasified coal combined cycle unit, or IGCC, comes closer, but the peripherals required to handle and gasify the coal decrease the efficiency over gas. You may have based your statement on a less efficient form of NG generation, but if so, that would be rather disingenuous if you do not clearly state the basis.

      BTW, I have no problem with putting a new coal power plant in Queensland,.

    • Sure Sid. Remind us again how much of the coal energy is wasted because fools think plant food is bad?

      Of course you don’t care about that any more than Chinese manufacturers care that the “healing” magnets, crystals, or copper bracelets they sell have no actual benefit to their gullible customers.

  2. I hate to say it but the ScoMo government is increasingly looking like a Coalition version of Labor’s Rudd government. It’s all talk and no action; then along comes a big problem (GFC for Rudd and COVID for ScoMo) which diverts attention from the lack of progress and policy.

    List the things that have not been addressed: winding back the Climate Activism influence; scrapping the ridiculous contract to build 12 diesel-powered subs (up to AUD200 billion, and obsolete before they are delivered); forcing the ABC (the national broadcaster) to respect its charter of impartiality; simplifying the ruinously complicated industrial relations / pay awards legislation; ensuring 90 days strategic reserve of oil/petroleum; forcing the States that refuse to allow development of off-shore gas reserves – at a time when there is a domestic gas shortage and rising prices; pulling the Victorian government into line and making it scrap it “Belt and Road” treaty with China etc.

    I have sympathy for the Shine Energy owners and operators. But gents – don’t feel that you are alone in your disappointment.

    • ScoMo was always the lesser of two evils IMO. The only thing I like about his government is so far they’ve made a real effort to balance the budget, before Covid hit anyway. His climate policies IMO are almost as damaging as Labor, a long way from offering a welcome mat to investors.

      • Eric,
        You could just as easily be describing Boris Johnson.
        Big on policy but puny on delivery.
        At least Johnson can claim he was hampered by a near death experience from the Covid infection.
        Boris is running out of time to show he is a Tory and not yet another politically correct excuse for a leader.

        • The only thing Boris is doing right is not delaying Brexit.

          Of course its going to be a fairly weak Brexit, for now. From what I have seen, the influencers who think they run Britain prefer dealing with Eurocrats rather than elected officials who have to face the anger of their voters. But as Europe is sucked dry in my opinion it will be increasingly obvious to everyone there is no longer a point being shackled to the sinking ship, so the Brexit will likely become firmer as time passes.

    • you have Labor Palletstacker running Qld
      links t greens n unions who are all on the greengravy train
      if they even looked like being able to go ahed the greens and all the abc luvvies would be outraged and dissing their presently best buddies for trashing their own lands
      rather amusing
      bob brown would have another convoy on its way asap.
      to convince them of the error of their ways.
      of course there is the smallish detail that so far every indigineous funded n run concerns been an utter disaster
      from dead cattle on their taken over trad land stations, to major fund theft monies paid by mine cos to traditional owners in billions has not a township decent school house or anything else to show for it.
      the few who have done well got the education and tried to pull everyone else up..get the money/ things belonga me influx. and too few even want to work or study to be able to manage making things better.
      its easier to blame whitey and demand more services cash healthcare housing and then trash it.
      from a twitter page yesterday posted by a black american:
      Thomas Sowell
      @ThomasSowell
      Have we reached the ultimate stage of absurdity where some people are held responsible for things that happened before they were born, while other people are not held responsible for what they themselves are doing today?
      9:56 PM · Jun 11, 2020·Twitter for iPhone

  3. “ not been given a timeframe on when it would receive the funding.”
    Join the club.
    I’m currently working on five federal funded road and bridge projects.
    Three part funded up front. One won’t pay until project fully completed. One won’t even commit to an amount, so no point even doing design.
    It is normal for governments to drip feed funding to projects.

  4. Not quite the whole story there Eric…

    Northern Australia Assistant Minister Michelle Landry confirmed she was the MP who spoke to Mr Dodd but denied she pressured him to step down.

    “Ms Landry, who holds the Queensland seat of Capricornia where the project would be built, said she merely suggested Mr Dodd hire a “head-kicker” to manage government relations.

    “I did not tell Ashley to step down. I said it was a massive multi-billion-dollar project, that we all want it to succeed, and it might be handy for him to have a right-hand man like they did with Adani getting Lucas Dow … someone who is a head-kicker who can deal with the government,” she said.”

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/aboriginal-coal-chiefs-fury-at-push-to-replace-me-with-a-white-ceo/news-story/ff7258dd0dae695f582b62d34ef162f1

  5. ..not to mention the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro. Rational thinking in government is lacking. Again.

  6. What does a $4m feasibility study for a $1b power station get you?
    Is it for the power station only, or include full life cycle cost to the mine, power station, environment and community?
    Can this company complete this study or do they need to sub contract to “Anglo Saxon” company experienced in this?

      • Eric
        AFAIK shine energy is only a project management or “ fixer” company owned by a few members of the local indigenous community, as has no capability of doing a $4m feasibility study for a $1b government funded project.
        Am I wrong?
        I guess they could use a chineses consultant.

        My background is in water, drainage and transport infrastructure. ( not mining or power)
        I have seen many feasibility studies both good and bad.
        I am very sceptical of the ones that have any hint of politics

        • Waza I have no idea what skills they currently have on their team.

          But I know when an entrepreneur needs a highly skilled software engineer they hire someone like me – its not a showstopper to have to hire a consultant to perform specialised work.

          The consultant they hire might or might not be aboriginal – there are some very skilled aboriginals out there. My electrician was an aboriginal, until an energy company offered him so much work he stopped his domestic electrical business and referred me to someone else.

  7. The same people who march for BLM, patronise aboriginal communities by not supporting community aspirations to enjoy the benefits of wealth creation like the rest of us do.

    • If I remember correctly, didn’t BLM begin as a black-run protest against black-on-black violence, before it was taken over by white SJWs to attack the police?

  8. The trajectory of the Australian electricity generation system has the inevitability of Greek tragedy, everyone including Nick Stokes I suspect knows where it is headed due to craven politicians, mendacious media and a misinformed public.
    The only thing to do now is sit back and enjoy the fun.

    • Nick Stokes tends to avoid the subject of the stupendous amount of raw materials needed to build his renewable Nirvana.

  9. “Australia’s increasingly precarious energy grid could really use a new source of reliable energy.”

    What this article strangely leaves out is that it wouldn’t be a new source of energy. There is a long standing coal mine and power station there. There is an existing railway that has been taking coal to the export terminal at Abbot Point.

    The power station struggled for many years up to 2013. The mine has been owned by Mt Isa Mines, XStrata, Glencore, Thiess. None seem to have made a success of it.

    Whether Shine can turn all this around is a real question.

      • It went into care and maintenance end 2012, but was decommissioned in 2018. Both mine and power station were teetering well before renewables came along.

        Your article says
        “But they have a commercially valuable asset – there are large deposits of coal in the area.”
        The “commercially valuable” descriptor is dubious.

        • Nick,
          “The “commercially valuable” descriptor is dubious.”
          What?
          Unless you have found a new commercial method for producing iron/steel Nick, coal is very valuable. Some more than others clearly, but all have real value. The Chinese seem to value all coal. Maybe it is just a manufacturing thing?

          • ” coal is very valuable”
            The doubt is, is this coal deposit valuable? No-one seems to have much success with it, lately. And it isn’t clear why Shine would succeed where others have failed.

          • Most Australian power still comes from coal. The old Collinsville power plant ran from 1968, a pretty good run. There is plenty of demand, power prices have rocketed in recent years.

            The only impediment to building new coal plants is political, the risk that they’ll suddenly be whacked with unaffordable taxes.

        • …The “commercially valuable” descriptor is dubious…

          I’d say it’s an earned descriptor after 100 yrs.

  10. The Guardian pretending to care about a coal-fired power plant is hilarious.

    as for the Morrison Govt, they fooled everyone who voted for them. big energy program announced recently by Angus Taylor had nothing for coal, but plenty for carbon capture & storage for their gas buddies, who send most of the gas abroad.

    that the Morrison Govt locked down the Australian economy…and got away with it…is, though, the most shameful act in Australian political history.

    naturally, the climate mob in Labor and the Greens loved seeing the economy destroyed, less co2 emissions & all that, so no argument from them.
    however, to see media and others you would expect to call them out, also going along with the lockdown, and the hysteria, is unforgivable.

    • The Guardian have become a little more ambiguous on the climate issue lately. Still plenty of hardline headline grabbers, but there’s a strange undertone of almost climate skeptic articles. Maybe someone in management is testing the water.

  11. The ScoMo & Josh show is the ultimate smoke & mirross show this we know from our inside knowledge of the party. Angus T is just doing as he’s told. None of the current leadership are conservatives. The party has been infiltrated and is now controlled by nasty vested interests. We’re in great danger from many fronts.

    • “Time flies like an arrow” – the sentence which killed early dreams of automated language translation 🙂

      • Yes, I see. First I’ve heard about time flies, but I’m not an entomologist, just an amateur etymologist. Is that a species native to Australia maybe? If so, I’m sure they’re big and poisonous buggers.

        Also unclear which specific arrow it is that they like. Or is it just that in general they like to have at least one arrow at their disposal?

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