$26 billion in ‘new energy economy’ projects proposed in Queensland, as feds pay bizarre homage to coal


Australia tops lists of global coal and gas exporters, but even states which continue to profit heavily from fossil fuels – like Queensland – have successfully managed to read the room to discern that perhaps now is not the time to release an official ode to coal.

Both drawing from the same reports, the Chief Economist Resources and Energy Quarterly report and Resources and Energy Major Projects report, the Morrison government has dedicated an homage to fossil fuels, while the Queensland government has somewhat more prudently highlighted that its state has already earned and will continue to bring in billions of dollars from hydrogen, battery minerals and rare earths projects – which it describes as ‘new energy economy’ projects.

Driven by the world’s growing hunger for batteries and advanced technology, Queensland exported almost $8.6 billion worth of aluminium, bauxite, copper and zinc in the 12 months to October 2021, it said.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt (left) and Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham signed a joint declaration of intent with Germany. Despite Europe’s focus on green hydrogen, the federal government continues to support blue and grey hydrogen projects.

Image: Australian Department of Industry: Resources

Federal resources minister Keith Pitt opted for quite a different path, with his official statement on the release veering into comical territory as he called fossil resources the “bedrock of the Australian economy” which will “continue to deliver for our nation in the years ahead”.

“Hundreds of new projects in the pipeline, including 60 new or expanded coal mines,” he boasted. “Coal is the star performer.”

With the first 15 paragraphs dedicated to this shining star (though some other fossil fuels do get a mention), minister Pitt only gestures towards the increased prospects for lithium, nickel and copper once towards the end of the statement, right before lumping hydrogen next to carbon capture and storage projects, as if the blue hydrogen was its only form.

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