Fossil fools in unholy alliance
Written by: Nick G. on 9 June 2023
A South Australian company that once sought to use its Labor Party contacts to win approval for it to mine uranium inside the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is in the news again – but under a new name.
Marathon Resources rebadged itself as Leigh Creek Energy Ltd on 3 September 2015 after purchasing the Leigh Creek Energy Project from Marathon’s then largest shareholder, ARP Tri-Energy Pty Ltd.
Opposition to Leigh Creek Energy’s proposal for in-situ, or underground coal gasification (UCG) was opposed by the Adnyamathanha traditional owners and by conservationists. UCG differs from fracking in that it has to first burn coal underground to release the gases that are then captured and sold on the market.
The Adnyamathanha were also the traditional owners of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary.
We wrote about opposition to Leigh Creek Energy in 2018 (see here Vanguard: Oppose the Leigh Creek UCG proposal! (vanguard-cpaml.blogspot.com) ).
Chinese social-imperialism wanted “in” on the uranium project through its giant China International Trade and Investment Corporation, the Pacific region operations of which were headed by Chen Zeng. The blogger mike-servethepeople wrote about China’s investment in Marathon here: servethepeople: Chinese increase stake in Marathon (mike-servethepeople.blogspot.com) .
They have remained a Top 20 shareholder in the Leigh Creek Energy until 2021 by which time they had focussed their attention, and their investments, on Australian coal, iron and aluminium.
Having been rebadged once, Marathon – as Leigh Creek Energy – rebadged itself again on 28 March 2022, this time as “clean green” NeuRizer Ltd, claiming to be “Australia’s first carbon neutral producer of urea fertiliser - the building block of crop production around the world”. Not a bad claim for a company that has not even started production.
NeuRizer aims to use the same UCG process to convert coal from its solid state into a gaseous form, resulting in the production of synthesis gas (syngas) containing methane and hydrogen, which is then further refined into urea fertiliser.
However, it has run into problems with the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), a legal body acting for the Conservation Council of SA, which has written to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) asking it to investigate whether NeuRizer had made "misleading or deceptive" carbon-neutral claims.
Part of NeuRizer’s claims to carbon-neutral status relies on the discredited process of purchasing carbon offsets. The Conservation Council SA has responded that urea production using this process is “a very carbon-hungry process”.
Chinese finance capital continues to be heavily invested in Marathon/Leigh Creek Energy/ NeuRizen. In addition to CITIC’s shareholdings, NeuRizen raised $21 million in new capital on 30 March 2017 when it sold a new release of 150 million shares to Hong Kong based China New Energy Ltd.
China New Energy is heavily involved in fossil fuels, with large asset holdings in China. They are joint owners with Shanxi Meijin Energy Ltd in 3 steel mills, 3 gas-fired power stations, and 4 coking coal and PCI (pulverised coal injection) mines. The latter uses thermal coal rather than the more expensive coking coal in a process in which coal particles are injected into blast furnaces.
The two largest shareholders in NeuRizer are now China New Energy Ltd (12.96%) and Citicorp Nominees Pty Ltd (11.86%).
On June 1, 2023 NeuRizer announced that it had signed a binding contract with Meijin Energy Investments (MEI), part of the Meijin Group, the largest integrated hydrogen company in China, to produce hydrogen at two Chinese sites using the UCG process.
We wish the Environmental Defenders Office of the Conservation Council SA every success in challenging NeuRizer’s greenwashing attempts.
NeuRizer’s unholy alliance with Chinese fossil fuel giants is not in the interests of the working classes of either country, and is part of capitalism’s destructive war on nature.
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