Wallarah 2 boss Kenny Barry says coal has important role to play around the world 'for a long, long time'

Parts of coal core samples, stored in plastic garbage bins, in the Wyong Coal storage facility at Tuggerah. Picture: David Stewart
Parts of coal core samples, stored in plastic garbage bins, in the Wyong Coal storage facility at Tuggerah. Picture: David Stewart

IN approving the Wallarah 2 coal mine earlier this year, the NSW Planning Assessment Commission made several references to the risk of “unplanned early mine closure” because of the uncertainty facing global coal.

This raised questions about the long-term viability of Wallarah 2, particularly in light of the global move towards renewable energy sources. 

But Wallarah 2 project manager Kenny Barry said that if being a third-generation coal miner had taught him anything, it was that coal is a cyclical business.

He said coal was on an upward swing after the challenges of the global financial crisis of 2007.

“What’s happened over the last 18 months is the industry is really gathering itself together,” Mr Barry said.

This was reflected by employment in coal mining.

“New mines are opening up, new mining proposals are on the table, and mines that were in ‘care and maintenance’ have been revamped and are producing again.”

Mr Barry scoffed at suggestions that coal was dead, and nobody would need it in the future.

“The reality is there are hundreds of new coal-fired power stations coming online in Asia over the coming years,” he said.

“These countries are going to be using coal for a long, long time. We’ve been using coal for a long, long time.”

Wallarah 2 project manager, Kenny Barry, at the Wyong Coal office in Tuggerah. Picture: David Stewart

Wallarah 2 project manager, Kenny Barry, at the Wyong Coal office in Tuggerah. Picture: David Stewart

He bristled at the coal-is-the-global-villain narrative perpetuated, he said, by the Greens.

“To be the prosperous country that we are now – that was achieved on the back of coal and other commodities that have been exported over many years,” he said.

The same applied to other prosperous countries including America, the United Kingdom, Europe and New Zealand, he said.

He said it was a bit rich for first-world opponents of coal to now call on the resource to be denied to third-world countries.

“To deny these people [third-world countries] the opportunity to use coal to develop their societies to the level that we are at is just an absurdity. And it’s wrong,” he said.

“These [third-world countries] are hellbent on bringing their countries and their societies up to the level that we’re on.

“They want what we’ve got, and I don’t blame them. We can’t deny them that.

“They’re going to use coal to get there. For everything from running water and sewerage to lights, you need a reliable power source, and coal will continue to be the future for power generation across Asia and India.”

He said this demand would ensure there would be “no issues” in selling the coal mined from Wallarah 2.

  • This is part of an ongoing series of articles.

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