THE closure of the Anglesea power station and coal mine has come as a warning sign for the Latrobe Valley’s power industry workforce.
Energy group Alcoa has indicated 85 power station and mining operators will lose their jobs on Victoria’s surf coast in August.
It follows the facilty previously supplying 40 per cent of the power needs for the Point Henry smelter in Geelong, which closed in August last year.
Surf Coast Air Action Group spokesperson Andrew Laird, who has been campaigning for closure with concerns of the station’s air pollution, said there was something to be learnt from Anglesea for the Latrobe Valley.
“Coal is on the way out and if Alcoa is paying 29 cents per tonne for coal it mined and it can’t find a buyer for its coal plant… and they pay a bit more in the Latrobe Valley with plants that are bigger, the writing is on the wall for coal power,” Mr Laird said.
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union state vice-president Graeme Middlemiss said two potential buyers of the Anglesea facility interested in researching into alternative and cleaner uses of brown coal were known to CFMEU.
“It’s very disappointing that neither of the possible purchases went ahead, as both organisations indicated some interest and were involved in the Latrobe Valley,” Mr Middlemiss said.
Mr Middlemiss said while the redundant Anglesea staff had no direct connection to the Valley, the CFMEU was making power companies aware there was a skilled workforce available.
“We’ve still got three months before the plant closes, and so far indications the same packages will be applied to Alcoa’s Geelong smelter,” Mr Middlemiss said.
Alcoa refining and managing director Alan Cransberg said with the Point Henry smelter closing, the Anglesea mine and power station was identified as having the potential to operate as a stand-alone facility.
Mr Cransberg said the formal sale process commenced in June last year, with a shortlist of potential buyers that were looking at the asset as a power generator.
“Unfortunately this was not successful. The decision to close was taken after consideration of Anglesea’s ability to compete in the wholesale electricity market,” Mr Cransberg said.
Voices of the Valley president Wendy Farmer said the closure was an indication the Valley needed to think seriously about what was going to take over the energy source when the power stations close down.
“We need to have something to move to rather than away from,” Ms Farmer said.