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Australian Environment Minister Sussan Ley has approved a third coal mine extension in the space of a month. The extension at Glencore’s Mangoola thermal coal mine in New South Wales follows extensions at the Whitehaven coal mine and the Wollongong coal mine in September.

The extension at the Glencore site will allow the mine to run for another eight years and produce 52 million tonnes of coal. In a statement covering the reasons for the approval of extension, Australian Environment Minister Sussan Ley stated: “The mine itself will contribute approximately 0.00073 % to global emissions per annum.”

She continued: “Based on this estimate, (the mine) … is unlikely to influence global emissions and climate change trajectories.”

Climate controversy

However, the decision has caused significant controversy, especially in the lead up to COP26, where the phasing out of coal power will be one of the main talking points.

Australia is the world’s biggest coal exporter. In 2020, the export value of coal from Australia was approximately A$54.62bn. The country has also yet to sign up for commitments for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, leading critics and climate campaigners to lambast the government for inaction on climate change.

The extension also follows a federal court decision in July declared that the nation’s environment minister has a “duty to take reasonable care” that young people won’t be harmed or killed by carbon dioxide emissions if she approves a coal mine expansion.