(EnergyAsia, September 7 2011, Wednesday) — The Australian Coal Association has named Nikki Williams its new CEO, replacing executive director Ralph Hillman who retired at the end of last month.

The association’s chairman, John Pegler, said Dr Williams, currently the New South Wales Minerals Council CEO, will take over the position in November. With more than 25 years in the resources sector, she will bring a wealth of experience and expertise in commercial negotiation and policy advocacy.

Mr Pegler said: “Dr Williams has been at the forefront of the climate change debate since 1989 during the international negotiations for the first climate change treaty signed in Rio in 1992.

“She has held senior commercial roles with Shell and Exxon in Africa, Asia and Europe, operating across the coal, oil, gas and chemical industries.

“Her preparedness to do things differently has led to important breakthroughs. For example, the industry’s Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue is breaking new ground in community consultation and providing an effective model to address the interests of the community and all stakeholders.

“That strong background, her experience on a wide array of boards both here and overseas, and her record representing the resources sector, means that she has the depth of understanding about how the industry works and what the impact of something like a carbon tax means for us.

“Nikki’s ability to conceive and deliver industry policy and to work with both major parties, at all levels of government, will contribute to meaningful public policy development for the country’s biggest export industry.

“This appointment could not have come at a more important time. The concerns in the community about the carbon tax appear to be growing and Parliamentary debates to decide the fate of the tax get underway shortly. That’s why it is so critical that the coal industry continues to make an articulate and serious contribution to the debate about how we tackle climate change.”

Mr Pegler also acknowledged the contribution that Ralph Hillman has made to the black coal industry during his four-year tenure as the head of the industry body.