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$400 mln commitment to low emissions coal technologies

27 July, 2007

NSW coal producers will voluntarily make up to $400 million available over the next decade to support important clean coal technology demonstration projects in NSW.

The funds represent the proportion of the industry's national $1 billion plus COAL21 Fund expected to be raised through coal production in NSW.

Announcing the commitment with NSW Premier Morris Iemma, NSW Minerals Council (NSWMC) CEO Dr. Nikki Williams and Australian Coal Assocation (ACA) executive director Mark O'Neill, said the availability of coal industry funding for worthwhile projects would help make NSW a leader in the development of low emissions technologies needed to meet the twin objectives of energy security and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

O'Neill and Dr. Williams said that the industry would consider funding for projects of national and international significance that had the support of the State Government and the power generation industry.

The industry has already announced funding of $20m to support the NSW Government's $60 million initiative on carbon capture and storage. This project will lead to a pilot CO2 storage trial at a suitable site. Gas for the trial will be sourced from a demonstration project involving Post Combustion Capture (PCC), a process for chemically removing CO2 from the flue gas of power stations. Results from work already underway in some areas of the state indicate significant storage potential.

"The NSW program is an important step towards achieving the equally important goals of reigning in greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time maintaining a robust economy for the people of NSW. The announcement positions NSW to make an even more significant contribution to the national and international effort now underway to demonstrate these technologies and it will play a major role in maintaining the long-term economic prosperity of the state," Dr. Williams said.

"The black coal industry is the state's largest export earner, underpinning the reliability, affordability and security of the state's power supply. It supports 67,000 jobs (more than 13,000 directly and more than 54,000 indirectly) and sustains entire communities," said O'Neill.

"The coal industry has been a major driver of the COAL21 national action agenda established in 2004 with federal and state governments, the power and coal industries, private and public sector research organisations, the CFMEU and New Zealand industry," O'Neill said.

In addition to the enormous employment and export opportunities it generates, the coal industry makes a critical contribution to the quality of life enjoyed by all Australians through the payment of royalties and taxes. Nationally, this totals more than $1.5 billion annually, with the NSW industry contributing $447 million in royalties alone in 2005-06.

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