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New leadership at World Coal Association

Benjamin Sporton

WCA appoints Benjamin Sporton as new chief executive officer and Mick Buffier as chairman

THE World Coal Association (WCA), the leading global coal industry body, has announced the appointment of Benjamin Sporton as its new chief executive officer, and Mick Buffier as chairman. The new leadership is said to mark an important change at the WCA, as it repositions itself to more fully engage on the global challenges facing the coal industry.

Expressing his delight at being appointed as the new chief executive, Mr Sporton, said: ‘The WCA has a hugely important role to play in raising awareness of the importance of coal in the global energy mix and the significant potential of high-efficiency low-emissions (HELE) coal technologies and carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) in reducing global CO2 emissions.

‘The WCA launched the global Platform for Accelerating Coal Efficiency (PACE) at the beginning of 2015 as a practical contribution to global efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. PACE’s objective is to raise the global average efficiency of coal-fired power plants and so minimize CO2 emissions, whilst maintaining legitimate economic development and poverty alleviation efforts. As we approach COP21 at the end of this year, it is essential that any new climate agreement is technology neutral.’

Mr Sporton has been deputy CEO at the WCA since 2012 and acting CEO since the end of 2014. He has extensive international experiencing leading the WCA’s policy and advocacy work, with a particular focus on climate change, energy poverty and sustainable development. He has also led the WCA’s work on the launch of PACE.

In addition, Mr Sporton represented the global coal industry at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro (Rio+20), regularly attends UN climate negotiations and is an Associate of the Coal Industry Advisory Board to the International Energy Agency.

Mick Buffier is group executive, coal assets at Glencore and has 35 years’ experience in the coal mining industry in Australia. He has been a director of the WCA for more than four years.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Buffier said: ‘This is an exciting time for the WCA. I am confident that with our new leadership we are well placed to play our role in meeting the global challenges facing the energy sector and making a positive contribution to global efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.

‘For many countries, the reality is that the only way they can meet their growing energy needs is through affordable, readily available coal. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global electricity from coal is expected to grow by around 33% to 2040. Given this growth, it is essential that there is greater investment in cleaner coal technologies to widen their deployment – this includes HELE coal technologies and CCUS.’

Mr Buffier is a director of ACALET, the Australian coal industry’s A$1 billion low-emission coal technology fund, a former chairman and a current director and deputy chairman of the NSW Minerals Council, and a Ministerial appointee to the NSW Coal Innovation Council. He is also an Associate of the IEA Coal Industry Advisory Board and a peer reviewer of the IEA World Energy Outlook.

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