December 4, 2010 / 7:43 AM / 9 years ago

Climate activists shut down Australian coal conveyor

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Two climate change activists chained themselves to a conveyor belt carrying coal to one of Australia’s largest power stations on Saturday, temporarily shutting the belt down, supporters said.

The Camp for Climate Action protesters chained themselves by their necks, stopping movement of coal for more than two hours, group spokeswoman Ellen Roberts said. They were cut free by police and arrested, and the belt restarted.

The conveyor was carrying coal to the Bayswater power station to the north-west of Sydney in New South Wales state, operated by state-owned Macquarie Generation. A group of supporters carrying placards rallied to support the two men, organizers said.

“The purpose of the action was to take direct action against coal infrastructure,” Roberts said.

The protest was timed to coincide with U.N. climate talks underway in Cancun, Mexico, she said, arguing that governments around the world were failing to act on climate change.

A spokesman for mining company Xstrata, which supplies coal to the power station, confirmed that the conveyor was halted. Macquarie Generation and police at the scene could not be immediately contacted for comment.

Xstrata said its own mining operations had not been disrupted by the incident.

Coal is one of Australia’s leading exports but the country’s influential environmental lobby strongly oppose the trade. Protesters have mounted numerous actions against coal facilities in and around the key Hunter Valley coal mining region.

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