6 December 2021

The region’s peak business organisation, Business Illawarra, has welcomed the NSW Government’s decision to declare the proposed extension of the Dendrobium coal mine ‘State Significant Infrastructure’ (SSI) over the weekend.

Business Illawarra has advocated strongly and consistently for the project, as it will provide an essential source of high-quality metallurgical coal to sustain the region’s steelmaking industry, as well as the Port Kembla Coal Terminal. 

It is anticipated that metallurgical (or “coking”) coal, as distinct from thermal (or “brown”) coal used in electricity generation, will be required to fire the steelworks until green steel technology is available in the 2040s. 

“This decision is a major step toward securing the 14,500 jobs in the Illawarra supported directly and indirectly by the Dendrobium Mine, and the $1.9 billion it contributes to the economy,” said Business Illawarra Executive Director Adam Zarth.

“Being declared SSI creates a pathway for the mine’s proponent, South32, to submit an alternate mine plan to the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces which takes into account feedback from the community, various experts and government departments collected through the Independent Planning Commission process.”

“The Illawarra business community strongly supports our local resources sector as a necessary part of the supply chain to the Port Kembla steelworks, Australia’s primary steel making plant, and understands its important contribution to our regional economy.”

“Large parts of our region’s industrial base is significantly emissions intensive, which is why we are working with all levels of government to secure appropriate industry transition measures that will ensure our region is not disadvantaged on the important journey toward net zero emissions by 2050.”

“To that end, South32 has committed to halving its operational emissions by 2035, and by 2030 BlueScope will reduce its emissions from steelmaking by 12 percent and non-steelmaking emissions by 30 percent. Both have set the long-term goal of net zero operational carbon emissions by 2050.”

“From today, our local mining, steel-making and related industries go into 2022 with several major decisions about the pace and nature of change in place, providing much-needed certainty for the future,” Mr Zarth said.