A group of eight activists from Auckland Coal Action, many of them grandparents, have carried out an inspection of Solid Energy’s Kopako 1 coal mine in the Waikato to protest its redevelopment, and left a climate change message for the company.
The mine, near Maramarua, in North East Waikato, has been dormant since the 1990s, but Solid Energy has now begun work to revive it. The team confirmed after walking into the site that not only has overburden been removed, but coal mining from a seam has begun.
“Solid Energy is undertaking extensive development of this old coal mine, despite having no customers for the coal, and the international industry being in terminal decline,” said one of the activists, Geoff Mason of Auckland Coal Action.
“Meanwhile, the Government has signed the Paris Agreement which means that we have to get out of coal by 2050, globally, which means coal like this has to stay in the ground.
The team walked into the mine site, and spent around an hour at the coalface, wrapping a excavator in “climate crime scene” tape confirming that new mining has removed the overburden and is now digging up coal. They deployed signs and banners, before leaving again.
Among the activists who inspected the mine today was Phil, a great grandparent.
“I am seriously concerned about a climate changed future for my five great grandchildren – this is why I am here today, to tell Solid Energy and the Government to stop wasting taxpayers’ money, and keep the coal in the hole,” she said.
Auckland Coal Action is also concerned that one of the potential customers for the mine could be Fonterra, the country’s second-largest user of coal. Fonterra was planning to open its own coal mine at nearby Mangatawhiri, but has put those plans on permanent hold.
“Solid Energy might be eyeing Fonterra as a potential customer, but Fonterra should be looking at changing its energy source to renewable wood and biomass rather than coal,” said Geoff Mason.
“What is clear is that this mine should be kept out of commission – for the climate, for the local environment and for our future.”
Check out more photos from the action, and watch this video in which Nick from Auckland Coal Action explains what’s on the line: