Australia is the world’s biggest exporter and fourth biggest producer of coal, but it s rich mineral wealth has had a serious impact on the environment.
The coal industry has made Australians the world’s biggest carbon dioxide emitters per person ahead of the US.
Now the industry, which is the bedrock of the country’s industrial and economic success, says it is under threat as the government strives to introduce measures to reduce carbon emissions in the fight against climate change.
Labour unions have warned that the industry will have to slash production leading to the loss of as many as 25,000 jobs.
But environmental campaigners say that Australia has a moral responsibilty to change.
Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley reports from Newcastle, on Australia’s south east coast, home to the country’s coal industry.