THE Mirboo North community has mobilised to strengthen its opposition to a coal exploration licence in the area.
Residents received notification the licence was approved on Monday afternoon last week and since then there have been multiple meetings and the Coal and CSG Free Mirboo North group has ramped up its campaign online.
The company behind the licences, Mantle Mining was not permitted to discuss the licence until an official announcement had been made by the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR), and a subsequent announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).
Mantle Mining’s official notification was released on June 19:
“Mantle Mining Corporation Limited (ASX: MNM) is pleased to advise that long-standing Exploration Licence Applications EL5336, EL5338, EL5428 and EL5429, in the Latrobe Valley, have all been granted recently,” the announcement said.
“This extra ground allows for a continuation into Mantle’s study of the continuity and prospectivity of deeper metallurgical black coal under the Latrobe Valley with a long term view to establishing a solar pumped, hydro-electric generation project utilising disused brown coal open cuts connected to underground storage created by black coal mining.”
Mantle Mining has five exploration licences covering the Latrobe Valley down to Won Wron, Mirboo North and areas near Trafalgar.

Black and brown coal

The announcement said Mantle Mining intends to determine the extent of deeper black coal resources under the Latrobe Valley (S7 area in Figure 1) with a view to establish underground mining of metallurgical (coking and PCI) and higher grade thermal coal.
Mantle Mining’s ‘low impact exploration techniques’ it intends to use includes “geophysical methods and minimal isolated drill holes” to better determine the extent and depth of the black coal at the margins of the Latrobe Valley.
Mantle Mining said its long term plans is to use brown coal for power generation by using solar pumped hydro generation systems dubbed “renewable energy generation”.
“The mined higher grade, higher valued black coal could be exported for steelmaking, combined into a more efficient, less polluting power station fuel while still utilising the latest technology to convert the abundant and more volatile existing brown coal resources into less polluting fuel products, synthesized industrial products and fertilisers for agriculture,” the ASX notice reads.
Mantle Mining has announced, in its first year, it will conduct community consultation meetings, desktop studies and “determine the most prospective areas within the tenements”.
While yet to hold community meetings in Mirboo North and district, the Coal and CSG Free Mirboo North group has already vowed to take “peaceful direct action” to stop Mantle Mining’s exploration works.

Greens support

While the Andrews Labor government has extended the CSG and unconventional onshore gas moratorium, it does not have a new coal policy.
The Coalition commissioned former Federal Government minister Peter Reith early in 2013 to lead an inquiry into onshore gas, which recommended the moratorium and fracking ban be lifted.
Premier Daniel Andrews said a decision on the moratorium would be made after a parliamentary inquiry – submissions to the inquiry close July 10.
The Greens are already supporting the Coal and CSG Mirboo North group, calling for the license to be revoked.
“No government can claim to be serious about climate change and also continue to allow more coal to be dug up and burned,” said Acting Greens leader Ellen Sandell.
“The farmers and residents at Mirboo North have declared themselves coal and gasfield free.
“They do not want coal mining to destroy their farmland and town.
“Labor must revoke this license and commit to building renewable energy, not expanding coal mines.”

The Mantle Mining ASX announcement document can be downloaded here.