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Mothball lignite plant, Coal Action tells Solid Energy

Press release - immediate release
Mothball lignite plant, Coal Action tells Solid Energy

Mataura, Southland – 18 January 2013- Coal Action Network members today presented Solid Energy with a “low carbon future” basket of sustainably-grown vegetables to represent the future of Southland’s fertile farming, and some mothballs for its lignite projects.

On the first afternoon of the 2013 “Keep the coal in the hole” Summer Festival, attendees took a tour of Solid Energy’s local coal projects, including the briquetting plant in Mataura, where they left the basket for the company. The gift basket also included a free copy of a report by BERL for WWF that sets out a low-carbon pathway for Southland’s economic future in a model that doesn’t include open cast mining for dirty lignite coal.

“We’ve spent $29 million of taxpayers money on this lignite project already – and any more money spent would be a waste,” said spokesperson Rosemary Penwarden.

The region would be far better off looking to develop low carbon technologies and industry, as spelt out in the BERL economic report for Southland released by WWF last year.

“Solid Energy has spent $29 million on a lignite briquetting plant that isn’t yet operating properly, has provided very few jobs, and there isn’t even a market for the briquettes - even Fonterra doesn’t want them,” she said. “They should give up on this project now.”

She said many large institutions such as hospitals were moving into the 21st century, away from unhealthy planet-destroying options like lignite and coal. Investors worldwide are beginning to divest from coal, and prices have crashed.

“Putting the plant into mothballs would be the best way to stop wasting money on this climate-changing white elephant.”

"We (taxpayers) have spent enough already. Given things aren't going so well for you guys, we would like to offer an alternative. We have options. Mothball the briquette plant, and join with us in choosing a low carbon future for all of our children and grandchildren,” said Penwarden.

The Summerfest will take place in Gore over the next two days, with a public open day on Sunday (full programme here).

Keynote speaker Rob McGreath, from Friends of Felton in Queensland, Australia, will talk of how his group stopped coal giant Ambre Energy’s plans for a massive coal mine in the area. See coverage here.

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