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Between a black rock and a hard place

For more than 100 years, Collie has dug up coal. But Australia's demand for the black river of gold is drying up. The lights, the bells, and the boom gate coming down.

a person standing next to a train: Collie, in Western Australia, was once the site of underground mining. (ABC News: Hugh Sando)

© Provided by ABC Business Collie, in Western Australia, was once the site of underground mining. (ABC News: Hugh Sando)

It's a sight that forces traffic to a halt in town six times a day.

From his backyard 5 kilometres from town, Trevor Aramini catches the toot of the train's horn in the distance, leans back and smiles.

"No one here gets sick and tired of stopping for those trains," he says.

"They know that what that train is carting is the very thing that supports this town."

Coal has been mined in Collie since the early 1900s.

Local legend suggests a local stockman made the chance discovery along a creek bed in 1883, with the first mine opening in 1927.

With construction of the town's first coal-fired power station in 1931 and in the decades since, Collie's coal has powered Western Australia's energy grid and the town's bustling economy along with it.

The future of coal in Australia is uncertain

Like countless other coal towns around the world, the community is caught on a changing tide.

Right now, fossil fuels are in the firing line, with the United States, the UK and Europe in recent months stepping up pressure on Australia to sign up to the Paris 2050 target for net-zero emissions.

In Collie's home state of Western Australia, during the election campaign, both sides of politics declared policies where the future for coal looks bleak.

Read the full article published on 11th March 2021

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