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Black Hydrogen Operation - Bell Bay

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 29 September 2022

Tags: Hydrogen, Coal


The science is clear: the proposed coal mine at Fingal feeding a black hydrogen operation at Bell Bay would be a climate disaster. It also poses an economic threat and endangers the national and international reputation of Tasmania's prospective green hydrogen industry, for which countries like Germany are a ready-made market.

Do you agree that if it goes ahead, this mine will be a heavy hit to our island's hard-won clean green and climate-positive brand - the brand so many primary producers, tourism operators, hospitality venues and other small businesses rely on? Do you also agree this black hydrogen plan would undermine our competitive advantage in a green hydrogen future? Will you do anything and everything in your power to stop this project going ahead?



Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question. Our Government has an ambitious plan to grow our Tasmanian economy, to create more jobs with the development of a world-class green hydrogen sector. Our green hydrogen vision, set out in our Tasmanian Renewable Hydrogen Action Plan, is for Tasmania to be a global leader in large-scale green hydrogen production by 2030.

Green hydrogen provides a critical enabler in Australia's energy transition to a cleaner and more sustainable future. Tasmania - Australia's leading renewable energy state - has significant competitive advantages to offer industry and the world. We are already 100 per cent self-sufficient in renewable electricity, and have legislated a world-leading target to double our renewable generation to 200 per cent of our current needs by 2040. We are delivering on our plan to establish a viable large-scale green hydrogen industry in Tasmania based on four key areas:

(1) exploring opportunities for using locally produced green hydrogen in Tasmania and for exports;

(2) providing financial support for green hydrogen projects and continuing investment attraction activities with international trade partners;

(3) ensuring a robust and supportive regulatory framework and assessing supporting infrastructure; and

(4) building community and industry awareness, developing skills and supporting research and education.

Those are the four areas.

Ms O'Connor - No place for coal in there. That is not a coal vision.

Mr ROCKLIFF - To your question, Ms O'Connor, I am aware of reports of a proposed clean hydrogen project from coal mined in the Fingal Valley -

Dr Woodruff - It is not clean. There is nothing clean about coal.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - Tasmania's nation-leading climate target of net zero emissions or lower from 2030, and our renewable energy targets - including our target to be a significant producer of hydrogen by 2030 - is generating great interest.

Our vision is for green hydrogen, and that is what we are pursuing. We do not support mining developments on productive agricultural land, where it is not in the state's best interest -a position agreed to by both Houses during the debate in 2019. I would remind the House of that. We have very robust and rigorous legislation for the environmental assessment of any proposed development.

I remind members that the previous government granted a mining lease to HardRock Coal Mining in 2013 for category 2 minerals and coal in the Fingal Valley. Since the granting of the lease, I can inform members that no mining of coal has occurred. It is understood there have been changes within the ownership of the company. The company has an off-take agreement with Paladin, which is planning to use coal for the production of hydrogen. MRT advised that they have not received a revised mining plan since the granting of the lease. The lease expires in August 2023. At that time, the lessee has the opportunity to apply to renew the lease in accordance with the provisions of the Mineral Resources Development Act 1995. In line with standard practice, MRT will undertake a comprehensive assessment of any application prior to making a recommendation to the minister.

I have clearly outlined our commitment as a government to green hydrogen, our investment, and the four pillars of our key plan to ensure we are a global leader in green hydrogen.