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Wednesday, 14 December 1983
Page: 3818

Question No. 359

Senator Childs asked the Minister for Resources and Energy, upon notice, on 15 September 1983:

(1) Is the Tasmanian iron ore pellet manufacturer, Savage River Mines, currently importing South African anthracite to be used in its iron ore pellet plant.

(2) Was Mr Barry Swan, spokesperson for the Australian Coal and Shale Employees ' Federation, correct in stating in the Australian Financial Review of 8 September 1983, that similar grade coals to South African anthracite are available from a number of Australian mines, including CSR Ltd's Yarrabee mine in Queensland and Bayswater Collieries Pty Ltd's Hunter Valley mine.

(3) Have 693 mineworkers lost their jobs in New South Wales since May 1982.

(4) Is the Australian coal industry in a severe state of overproduction and did stockpiles in all districts stand at record levels on 1 January 1983.

Senator Walsh —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) I am advised that Savage River Mines has imported anthracite from South Africa for use in its iron ore pelletisation project in Tasmania. Imports of all types of coal from South Africa into Tasmania in 1982-83 amounted to 26,241 tonnes. The company has a requirement for about 30,000 tonnes of anthracite in 1984.

(2) I understand that for pollution abatement and metallurgical reasons the company requires anthracite or other low volatile coal of particular size and other physical specification. Savage River Mines have had discussions over a number of years with prospective Australian suppliers, including those referred to in the question, concerning their ability to provide a suitable product-so far without success. The company believes Australian sourcing of a technically suitable product should offer cost savings over imported anthracite and negotiations are continuing.

(3) According to the Joint Coal Board figures, employment in the New South Wales Coal Industry in May 1982 was 21,091. As at August 1983, the latest published figure, employment was 19,460 persons.

(4) Coal industry production is currently in excess of demand, particularly for coking coal. I am advised that the Queensland Coal Board does not publish data on stocks. Figures published by the Joint Coal Board indicate that New South Wales coal stocks reached record levels in January 1983, and have since increased to over 21 million tonnes in August.