Resources Minister urges AGL to sell Liddell before backing coal industry at mining lunch

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Matt Canavan urges AGL to ‘put a for sale sign’ on Liddell Head of Glencore’s n coal business, Peter Freyberg, listens as a protester, waiting for Resources Minister Matt Canavan, gives his view of the industry
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Senator Matt Canavan and his National Party colleague, NSW Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen

Senator Canavan addressing the mining lunch

TweetFacebookThe Liddell story so farFitzgibbon opposes government’s Liddell sale talkCriticising Labor and the Greens for an approach that regarded renewables as “good” and coal as “bad”, Senator Canavan said needed cheap and affordable power. If it wanted any future as an industrial nationit would have to find a way to arrest its escalating energy prices –a warning that applied to gas as well as electricity.

Senator Canavan said anyone who believed the coal industry was in “structural decline” did not understand “basicmaths”. While n coal exports may have levelled out in recent years, even conservative estimates of future global energy needs showed big increases in the tonnages of coal to be consumed.

He said “high energy low emission” or HELE power stations were a third more efficient than Liddell-type power stations, and he urged the building of one in the Hunter region, which was home to ’s thermal coal export industry.

Senator Canavan’s assessment of the situation was endorsed by the head of Glencore’s n coal business, Peter Freyberg, who said that if energy prices continued to rise, industry would “go offshore”. He said energy costs were hitting everyone from the biggest power users, such as smelters, down to the household consumer.

He said prices had spiked in Victoria last year when the Hazelwood power station shut, and people “shouldn’t be surprised at another jump” if Liddell shut in 2022.

Senator Canavan stressed the government’s doubts about AGL’s post-Liddell plan, saying it had only financially committed to upgrading the Bayswater power station, and question marks remained over the rest of the scheme.

While Senator Canavan was in Singleton, AGL chief executive Andy Vesey was defending his company’s approach at a Sydney business lunch, saying it had time to “get it right” over Liddell.

“We don’t want to have another Hazelwood-esque event,” Mr Vesey said.

Mr Vesey backed the federal government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee, which Senator Canavan said was the key to ensuring gridstability.

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