A bright future for Collie

Wind turbines in a desert

The opportunity

With the transformation of WA’s South West Interconnected electricity system already underway, it is critical that a plan is developed to support a fair and managed transition for the Collie community, where 900 people are employed in coal mining and coal-fired power generation.

With government planning and assistance, it will be possible to create new jobs and economic opportunities while diversifying the local economy.

The ground-breaking ‘Collie at the Crossroads’ report by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) shows how a local workforce geared towards sustainable industry and manufacturing can underpin the next century of prosperity for Collie. This blueprint for the fair transition was developed in close consultation with the Collie community, the coal industry, unions and Traditional Owners, who identified opportunities for transition and economic diversification.

Other proposals for Collie include a quick-start green aluminum smelter in Collie to process Alumina that is currently exported. This project is backed by
Ross Garnaut.

The BZE report found transitioning to 100% renewable energy could be a major jobs driver for the region, creating 1550 jobs by 2030, including:

  • 1245 jobs in renewable energy transition, (renewable energy manufacturing, operating a 200MW pumped hydro in retired coal pits, coal plant decommissioning, and hydrogen peaking plant).
  • 130 jobs in sustainable building materials (low carbon cement and wood products, farm forestry).
  • 175 jobs in recycling renewable energy products including lithium battery recycling and commercial-scale solar PV recycling processing 200,000 panels every year.

Collie is already being transformed into a world-class adventure trail town through the ‘Collie Adventure Trails’ initiative, determined to attract cyclists and bushwalkers of all levels to its bush circuits. The project is expected to create 160 jobs, 33 directly in tourism. 

Case Study: Beyond Zero Emissions: Collie at the Crossroads

The future is uncertain for workers in Collie’s coal industry, long the town’s economic mainstay. The recent announcement of plans to close Muja units 5&6, as well as jobs losses at Griffin Coal, highlights the urgent need for long-term, funded transition planning.

Despite these challenges, the future for Collie and fossil-fuel communities all over Australia is bright, if they can seize the opportunities coming decades will present. The global move to a low-carbon economy presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Collie’s workers. A local workforce geared towards sustainable industry and manufacturing can underpin the next century of prosperity for Collie’s people.

The opportunities outlined in this report are made possible by a broader transition on WA’s main electricity grid. The looming closure of Muja power station is the perfect opportunity for WA to fully harness the state’s renewable energy abundance. A renewable transition and creating a circular economy can lower costs, diversify WA’s economy and create healthier, more sustainable regions. 

How many jobs would it create?

This proposal would assist with the re-deployment of at least 500 Collie coal workers and transition the Collie community to more sustainable and diversified economic base.

Carbon Savings

The transition described would save over 14 million tonnes per year by 2030.

The proposal

Clean State advocates for the adoption of a Collie Transition and Development Plan that includes the following elements:

  1. Establish a WA Renewable Energy Target and timeline for the planned retirement of coal fired generation to give certainty to investors and the local workforce. 
  2. Establish a Collie TAFE campus to provide free re-training for coal workers in renewable energy, sustainable building materials, low-carbon manufacturing and other industries.
  3. Work with coal mining companies to develop and deliver progressive mine site rehabilitation plans in consultation with the local community.
  4. Where possible, utilise mine site landforms and infrastructure for beneficial local community uses and economic opportunities such as aquaculture, recreation and ecosystem restoration.
  5. Examine the potential for coal mining voids to be utilised as a waste management facility to receive lithium processing waste from Kemerton and other minerals processing facilities in the southwest.
  6. Work with the Forest Products Commission to establish a second large scale native plant nursery in Collie, to provide seedlings for the carbon farming industry and for Collie mine rehabilitation. 
  7. Call for expressions of interest for the development of a pumped hydro and storage battery project utilising coal mine voids.
  8. Partner with the Forest Products Commission to establish a sustainable timber building materials production, research and innovation hub based on plantation timber resources. (See separate proposal).
  9. Partner with private industry to build a world class processing facility for engineered wood products and prefabricated structural applications in Collie.
  10. Continue to invest in the Collie Adventure Trails initiative and support marketing of Collie as a world-class an off road and adventure cycling destination.
  11. Develop a WA Renewable Energy Common User Facility in the Southwest to maximise local value capture in manufacturing and installation of renewable energy technology.
  12. Commission a feasibility study into low carbon cement manufacturing in the Collie region.
  13. Support the proposal for a quick-start green aluminium smelter in Collie.
  14. Provide assistance to restart the Aboriginal-led marron farm in Collie.