Still from the Minerals Council's new ad campaign.
Still from the Minerals Council's new ad campaign. (Image: YouTube)

Getting Australians to love coal is a big ask these days. It’s no wonder, then, that the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) wants to turn everybody’s attention to another resource that Australia is famous for digging up.

In the latest version of its “There’s more to Australian mining” PR campaign, launched this week, the lobby group makes a new and extraordinary claim: that Australian mining is helping cure cancer. 

Yes, you read that correctly. Australian mining is helping cure cancer. 

The group explains in a media release:

Along with many traditional uses of gold — making jewellery, storing wealth and in dentistry — a host of new uses have emerged such as mobile phones and other electronics, aerospace and medicine… One example is the use of gold nanoparticle technology as an emerging form of treatment for cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The MCA represents Australia’s biggest fossil fuel producers, including mining giants Glencore, BHP, Rio Tinto, Whitehaven Coal and Adani. Its members also include gold miners, including Newcrest Mining. 

The contradiction of it promoting scientific research while fighting measures to address climate change has not been lost on climate action campaigners.

“It is quite ironic that the MCA claims to be directly assisting scientists fighting cancer, while it continues its deeply anti-scientific approach to climate change,” Dan Gocher, the director of climate and environment at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility said.

The campaign is a far cry from the group’s “little black rock” campaign from a few years ago, which sold the virtues of coal using a hashtag #coalisamazing. The Australian Conservation Foundation called the claim “negligent”. 

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, most of Australia’s gold is shipped overseas. Around 37% goes to India where it is used predominantly for jewellery, and 38% goes to the United Kingdom to be used on financial markets. 

The MCA would not say what percentage of Australian gold was being used for cancer research, or if indeed it was Australian gold being used in nanoparticle trials. 

“This campaign shows our minerals are used for much more than just energy,” MCA chief executive Tania Constable said.