The Rising Tide Of Mining Executives’ Tears


“Imagine yourself standing in the ocean and you are digging your toes into the sand, trying to keep your head above the water as each wave rolls past.”

Who could that be? An unnamed scientist at the CSIRO, whose job in climate research fell to the axe in the latest wave of cuts? Perhaps a seaside property owner, living under a rock now threatened by sea-level rise? A Pacific Islander, maybe, pleading with the Australian government to quit profiting from the export of fossil fuels that is sinking their homeland?

Nope, that was the irony-drenched analogy Queensland Resources Council boss Michael Roche drew in a report this morning, which the industry is using as a begging-chip for yet more government support. And as it turns out, Roche is not the only mining bigwig who feels like they’re the victim.

“That’s how most veterans in our sector are feeling of late.”

Roche’s Ocean is flooded with the crocodile tears of mining executives: “We are in uncharted territory,” said one unnamed “industry leader”.  “It’s all about survival,” another declared.

It’s all very sad, but there is some good news tucked away in the report: “One-third of all our coal mines in Queensland are running at a loss,” Roche wrote.

“Breaking that down further, more than half of Queensland’s thermal coal mines (producing coal for power generation) and one in four of our metallurgical coal mines (producing coal for steel making) are not covering their cash costs.”

Whatever millions the poor mining companies are paying Roche and similar lampooning lobbyist, it’s going to have to buck the trend in industry profits this year and rise.

Somehow, we feel sure Roche’s will. But New Matilda always strives to give credit where it’s due – we suspect Roche’s latest efforts may have been inspired by the crafty wordsmithery and impeccable timing of Greg Evans, the Executive Director of Coal at the Minerals Council of Australia.

Last month, Evans seized on revelations that 2015 was the hottest year on record as a failsafe argument for why we need more coal. But of course!

Surely, they must be trolling.

Thom Mitchell is New Matilda's Environment Reporter.