An Australian company’s plan to build a coal-fired power plant in Papua New Guinea is a step closer to reality after a memorandum of agreement was reached with the local governments.
Since at least 2014, Australian-based Mayur Resources has been proposing to build a coal-powered power plant and coal mine in Lae, Morobe province. Now a MOA has been signed by the company, the Lae City Authority and the Morobe Provincial Government for a new 60-megawatt power station.
PNG’s Communications and Energy Minister Sam Basil said the plants will relieve Lae City of its blackouts and generate a K5 million or AU$2.09 million in revenue per year for Lae and Morobe governments, as well as 300 local jobs.
Basil said while PNG is a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement, the country should have the right to use coal power. “Big nations are not reducing [coal emission], therefore, Papua New Guinea needs to be given a quota,” said Basil.
“In PNG, we’ve been denied that right [to burn coal] for a very long time. As mandated leaders from Morobe, we made a decision to make sure we provide cheap power for Lae City to develop into an industrial hub.”
Lae MP John Rosso said coal processing will be significantly more affordable than environmentally friendly alternatives such as hydro power.
“Of course we can utilize hydro power and solar power,” said Rosso. “However, we can’t always wait for this to happen in the next 20 years. We have situations with blackouts to address immediately and thus the coal power option is the way forward.
“When I looked at the facts and figures of how efficient coal power is used in Australia, it was encouraging to back the idea for the coal power plant to be established in Lae.”
PNG’s Conservation and Environment Protection Agency has endorsed the plan following an assessment.
Basil said the power facility will be ready in two years.