Alcoa Coal Closes in Anglesea, Australia

Alcoa coal fired power station closes with the closure of the Alcoa aluminium smelter and Alcoa being unable to find a buyer. Community action demonstrated that the power station was uneconomic and had lost its social licence.


Description

Anglesea is a beachside town in Victoria with a population of around 2,500 people on the Great Ocean Road - one of Australia’s primary tourist destinations. Brown coal has been mined in Anglesea since 1959, and the Anglesea Power Station was established in 1969 to provide electricity to Alcoa’s Point Henry aluminium smelter (Su and Jones 2017). The open cut coal mine is 325 hectares on Crown land in a unique and biodiverse heathland and connects to the Anglesea Power Station by a three kilometre private road (Su and Jones 2017). The Anglesea Power Station employed around 85 people in 2015 (Arup and Willington 2015), had a capacity of 150 megawatts of electricity and supplied around 40% of Point Henry aluminium smelter’s energy (Su and Jones 2017).

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Basic Data
NameAlcoa Coal Closes in Anglesea, Australia
CountryAustralia
ProvinceVictoria
SiteAnglesea
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Coal extraction and processing
Specific CommoditiesCoal
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsAlcoa Anglesea Power Station involved one steam turbine and around 1.1 million tonnes of brown coal each year to generate 150 megawatts of electricity that was transmitted to the Point Henry aluminium smelter via a 45 kilometres high-voltage line.

“Carbon Monitoring for Action estimates the power station emits 1.21 million tonnes of greenhouse gases each year as a result of burning coal” (http://surfcoast.airaction.org/?page_id=9)

Alcoa has a lease for 7,221 hectares, with 545 hectares available for mining and approximately 325 hectares mined. The land is unreserved Crown Land leased under the Mines (Aluminium Agreement) Act 1961 (Alcoa 2016).
Project Area (in hectares)7,221
Level of Investment (in USD)163,000,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population2,500
Start Date01/01/2013
End Date12/05/2015
Company Names or State EnterprisesAlcoa from United States of America
Relevant government actors- Earth Resources Regulation

- Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)

- Environment Protection Authority
Environmental justice organisations and other supporters- SCAA, https://www.facebook.com/SurfCoastAirAction/

- Doctors for the Environment Australia, https://www.dea.org.au/

- Environment Victoria, http://environmentvictoria.org.au/
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Shareholder/financial activism.
Street protest/marches
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other environmental related diseases
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseProject cancelled
Development of AlternativesClose the coal fired power station

Increase renewable energy

Zero carbon emissions for Victoria
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.Alcoa couldn't find a buyer for the coal fired power station because coal is becoming increasingly uneconomic, particularly compared to renewables, and the community campaign directly focussed on highlighting that the power station was uneconomic and lost its social licence to operate.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Mines (Aluminium Agreement) Act 1961

Minerals Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990

National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999

References

Yang Su, and David Jones, (2017), ”Healing the ‘Scar’ of the Landscape: Post-Mining Landscape in Anglesea,” in The International Conference on Design and Technology, KEG, pages 182–189. DOI 10.18502/keg.v2i2.613

Links

Alcoa, “Point Henry”, [online], Alcoa website, https://engage-anglesea.alcoa.com.au/anglesea, [accessed 4 March 2017]
[click to view]

Alcoa, (2016), “Fact Sheet: Anglesea Power Station and Mine Remediation Overview”, [online], Alcoa Anglesea website, https://engage-anglesea.alcoa.com.au/anglesea, [accessed 4 March 2017]
[click to view]

Doctors for Environment Australia, (2014), “To protect health”, [online], Doctors for Environment Australia website, https://www.dea.org.au/media-release-to-protect-health-healthy-planet-healthy-people-dea/, [accessed 4 March 2017]
[click to view]

Arup, T. and Willingham, R., (2015), “Alcoa to shut Anglesea coal mine and power plant”, [online], The Age website, http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/alcoa-to-shut-anglesea-coal-mine-and-power-plant-20150512-ggzgw9.html, [accessed 4 March 2017]
[click to view]

Surf Coast Air Action, “About”, [online], Surf Coast Air Action website, http://surfcoast.airaction.org/?page_id=7, [accessed 3 March 2017]
[click to view]

Surf Coast Air Action, (2013), Essential Services Commission letter, [online], Essential Services Commission website, http://www.esc.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/SBN-Surf-Coast-Air-Action-20131217.pdf, [accessed 3 March 2017]
[click to view]

Vorrath, S., (2014), “Alcoa plant closure delivers another blow to coal power industry”, [online], RenewEconomy website, http://reneweconomy.com.au/alcoa-plant-closure-delivers-another-blow-to-coal-power-industry-77925/, [accessed 4 March 2017]
[click to view]

Other Documents

A satellite image of the Anglesea coalmine and power station. Photo: Google Earth Arup, T. and Willingham, R., (2015), “Alcoa to shut Anglesea coal mine and power plant”, [online], The Age website, http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/alcoa-to-shut-anglesea-coal-mine-and-power-plant-20150512-ggzgw9.html, [accessed 4 March 2017]
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorAustralian Environmental Justice Project, Lisa de Kleyn, RMIT University, lisa.dekleyn@rmit.edu.au
Last update20/12/2017
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