Herald opinion: Centennial plan 'ridiculous'

13th August 2020

So it is extraordinary - or "ridiculous", to use Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper's words - for Centennial Coal to propose that as many as 200 coal trucks a day should be allowed to barrel up and down some seven kilometres or so of public road to supply one of its customers, Eraring Power Station owned by Origin Energy.

As we report today, Centennial is having problems meeting the required specifications for Myuna coal going to Eraring, and wants to blend it with coal from its Mandalong mine.

Myuna is east of the power station. Mandalong coal comes to the surface at Cooranbong, west of the power station. Both mines are directly connected to the power station by conveyor.

Yet despite this, it's apparently cheaper to haul the coal by road, so that's Centennial's preference. It application for approval lists two alternatives.

In one, Centennial could build a coal washery at Myuna, but does not want to for reasons including cost and difficulties disposing of the washery waste.

In the other, the coal could continue being taken by conveyor, and be blended on site at Eraring.

But Centennial claims that this "does not align with Origin's preferred coal delivery strategy".

Put plainly, it's saying Origin doesn't want that.

Centennial said last night that it did not want trucks on the road.

They were a last resort. It had explored alternatives to trucking, including "seeking the cooperation of our customer, Eraring, to blend coal on site at the power station, and unfortunately we have been left with no option other than pursue the current proposal".

Yet Origin said last night it had "not had discussions with Centennial about this proposal". It noted exhibition of the plans had been extended by a fortnight, which would give it a chance to talk with Centennial.

Regardless of how we arrived at this situation, a couple of things are clear.

Eraring is the state's biggest power station. It must get its coal.

But those trucks cannot go on the road.

Centennial must withdraw its application, and work with Origin on a solution. The alternatives are there, right in front of them.

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