BHP’s exit from the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) just weeks out from the Queensland election is a major blow for the lobby group, with new figures provided by 350.org showing BHP contributes almost half of Queensland’s total metallurgical coal production.
In the year to June 2020, BHP and its joint venture partners produced and sold 72 million tonnes of metallurgical coal from their Queensland mines, worth an estimated $13.5 billion Australian dollars. This represents 47% of the state’s total metallurgical coal production. More detail below.
CEO of 350.org Australia Lucy Manne said, “BHP is a giant in Queensland’s resource industry. Turning its back on the QRC for its political meddling will send shockwaves through the sector.”
“While what BHP contributes to QRC’s coffers through membership fees is unknown, we can only assume it is a significant proportion of QRC’s funding and that the waning of this love affair will cause QRC pain.”
The QRC’s rogue election advertising (found online here), making inflammatory claims about Greens policy using a pool of blood, saw BHP put its membership on pause.
“When one of the state’s biggest coal producers doesn’t want to be associated with the state’s coal lobby group – you know you’ve gone too far. BHP should not just suspend, but cut all ties with QRC for good,” Ms Manne said.
“Lobby groups like the QRC have undermined action on climate by pursuing their polluting business model at the expense of everybody else.
“It’s vital now for BHP to permanently cancel their membership and other member companies should follow suit, including Rio Tinto and South32.
“QRC scored a solid ‘F’ in InfluenceMap’s recent analysis of Australian industry associations, finding their actions undermined efforts to meet the Paris climate agreement. “
Facing investor pressure over climate lobbying in August, BHP released guidance and Global Policy Principles regarding its approach to the advocacy undertaken by its industry associations. These contain a number of changes to BHP’s approach, including requiring lobbying groups to:
- Advocate for Paris Agreement-aligned emissions reduction targets
- Not advocate for energy policies that support fossil fuels over renewable energy
- Avoid advocating for Kyoto carryover credits.
BHP has further pledged to “disclose in ‘real time’ if we determine that one of our material association memberships has materially departed from our Global Climate Policy Standards.”
According to 350.org, the QRC has clearly and consistently undermined the Paris Agreement, including since BHP concluded their review of the lobby group in April 2020 and decided to remain a member despite concerns over climate lobbying.
In 2019 QRC total revenue was $9.4M of which $6.2M was “members fees – subscriptions and special levies.”
BHP’s significance to the Queensland coal industry
BHP’s metallurgical coal production in Queensland is conducted via two joint ventures: a 50:50 joint venture with Mitsubishi (BMA) and a joint venture with Mitsui in which BHP has an 80% stake. Therefore, there are two ways of viewing BHP’s significance, either through the lens of the operations in which it has at least a 50% stake or via its equity share of production from these mines.
Production including totals of joint venture operations
In the year to June 2020, BHP and its joint venture partners produced and sold 72 million tonnes of metallurgical coal from their Queensland mines worth an estimated $13.5 billion Australian dollars. This represents 47% of the state’s metallurgical coal production.
BHP equity production only
In the year to June 2020, BHP produced and sold 40.6 million tonnes of metallurgical coal from its Queensland mines worth an estimated $7.6 billion Australian dollars. This represents 27% of the state’s metallurgical coal production.