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Aussie company pushes to open PNG's first coal-fired power plant

Coal conference
Talkin' 'bout coal - Sam Basil MP, John Rosso MP and Mayur boss Paul Mulder. Amongst others at this meeting was Dr Ona Renagi, Unitech vice-chancellor

YARA MURRAY-ATFIELD | Pacific Beat | ABC News | Extract

Read the complete article here

SYDNEY - An Australian company is pushing ahead with plans to open a coal-fired power plant and coal mine in Papua New Guinea, despite the recent call from the world's most authoritative climate science body to completely cut greenhouse emissions by 2050.

Australian-based and PNG-focused Mayur Resources is proposing the establishment of an "Enviro Energy Park" in the industrial hub of Lae in PNG's Morobe province.

Mayur has been in talks for the project since at least 2014, but now a new memorandum of agreement (MOA) has been signed between the company, the Lae City Authority, and the Morobe Provincial Government.

The MOA details plans for a new 60 megawatt power station, with the ability to burn coal as well as use renewable biomass, solar energy, and by-product heat.

Mayur Resources' managing director Paul Mulder told the ABC the company was essentially at the stage of being "construction-ready" for the project, which he said would significantly reduce the energy cost for Papua New Guineans.

On Tuesday, Mayur released a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange detailing further non-binding plans to work with coal exporter Square at a coal mine in another province, touting the "low-ash, low-sulphur coal" found at Gulf Province's Depot Creek.

If the projects are built, they would mark the first coal-fired power plant and coal mine in the country.

The project has attracted high-profile supporters, including Energy Minister Sam Basil who did not respond to an ABC request for comment, but said in a Mayur press release that "we can expect a new power facility in just over two years from now".

"Whilst there are always those that will criticise, I take this opportunity to outline that Australia enjoys its first world developed lifestyle with 70 per cent of its total energy coming from coal," Mr Basil said in the release, adding that this project would only be a much smaller fraction of PNG's total energy.

PNG is a signatory to the Paris Agreement and, like Australia, recently signed the Pacific Islands Forum's Boe Declaration, which says climate change "remains the single greatest threat to the livelihood, security, and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific".

An assessment from PNG's Conservation and Environment Protection Agency has given its endorsement to the plan, but it still faces community backlash.

"Our neighbours are really facing an existential crisis from sea level rise," Christian Lohberger, head of anti-coal activist group Nogat Coal, told the ABC.

"So we think it's irresponsible for Papua New Guinea to invest in coal, especially because there are many, many alternatives for energy generation," added Mr Lohberger, who also works for the Astra Solar company in PNG.

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