The Australian Federal Government has approved a plan to restart the Russell Vale coal mine in the Illawarra region of New South Wales by Indian-owned Australian coking coal company Wollongong Coal, showing strong support for the development of the coal industry.
This is the first approval of a coal coal project by Australian Environment Minister Susan Lei since May this year. In making the decision, the minister took into account China's ability to buy coal from other countries around the world after Beijing restricted imports of Australian coal.
The argument that Australian coal mines will simply be replaced with alternative sources in other parts of the world if not approved by the government could trigger a string of permits delayed this year.
Just last week, the Independent New South Wales Planning Commission rejected South Korean steelmaker Posco's plan to build the Hume coal project with a capacity of 3 million tonnes per annum in the South Highlands and an associated rail link to the Port of Kembla.
Coal will be the main source of growth for the Australian economy after 2030, given the growth in global demand, said the country's natural resources minister on Monday, a day after the UN envoy urged the country to phase out fossil fuels.
World coking coal prices have more than doubled this year from $ 10 to $ 270 per tonne. Steam coal quotes reached $ 172 per tonne, up from $ 46 a year ago.