Coal in Australia
Coal in Australia is mined primarily in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Coal is used to generate electricity and most of the coal mined in Australia is exported, mostly to eastern Asia. In fiscal year 2013/14, 430.9 million tonnes of coal was mined, and 375.1 million tonnes was exported. Coal provides about 69% of Australia's electricity production. In fiscal year 2008/09, 487 million tonnes of coal was mined, and 261 million tonnes was exported. In 2013, Australia was the world's fifth-largest coal producer, after China, the United States, India, and Indonesia. However, in terms of proportion of production exported, Australia was the world's second largest coal exporter, with exports accounting for roughly 73% of coal production. Indonesia exports about 87% of its coal production.
Coal mining in Australia has been criticised by members of the environmental movement, due to carbon dioxide emissions during combustion. This criticism is primarily directed at thermal coal, for its connection to coal-fired power stations as a major source of carbon dioxide emissions, and the link to climate change and the effects of global warming on Australia. The burning of coal for electricity produces 29% of Australia's total greenhouse gas emissions, based on 2013-2014 Clean Energy Regulator data.
Both Greenpeace Australia Pacific (Energy [R]evolution) and Beyond Zero Emissions (Zero Carbon Australia 2020) have produced reports claiming a transition can be made to renewable energy and Greenpeace has called for a just transition for coal based communities, but others argue at present there is no strong evidence of a viable alternative for the vast majority of Australia's electricity generation, or for the significant economic and social benefits coal mining delivers to regional communities. Many of these arguments specifically ignore the differentiation between thermal and metallurgical coal, and the different application they play in modern society. Coal Seam Gas, methane-based gas associated with deposits of coal has historically been flared, however over the past 10 years has been recovered and used to generate further electricity.
price on carbon emissions would be likely to impact most heavily on brown coal usage within Australia (particularly in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria) for power generation.
- 1 Forms of coal
- 2 Production and reserves
- 3 Major mines
- 4 Major export markets for Australian coal
- 5 Major coal export ports
- 6 Major coal mining companies
- 7 Environmental impacts
- 8 Environmental regulation of coal mining
- 9 Clean coal technologies
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Forms of coal
Bituminous coal is mined in Queensland and New South Wales, and is used for both domestic power generation and for export. It is mined underground or open-cut before being transported by rail to power stations or export shipping terminals. Bituminous coal was also once transported to other Australian states for power generation and industrial boilers.
Lignite is mined in Victoria and South Australia, and is of lower quality due to a lower thermal value largely caused by a high water content. Ash content varies significantly but some Australian lignite have very low ash content. As a result, Victoria adopted German power station and briquette technology in the 1920s to utilise the lignite reserves of the Latrobe Valley. Today coal from three open cut lignite coal mines in Victoria is used for baseload power generation.
Production and reserves
Australia is the fifth largest producer of coal, and by proportion exported, Australia is the second largest exporter of coal in the world, with most of the exports going to Japan. Total production of bituminous coal in Australia in the financial year 2010-11 was 405 million tonnes (Mt.), down from 471 Mt. in 2009-10. This drop was largely as a result of the Queensland floods of January 2011 where production declined from an expected 200 Mt. to 163 Mt.
Coal exports are Australia’s second-largest source of export income, after iron ore exports. In 2011, coal exports were worth 47 billion Australian dollars, or $USD 47.8 billion, with $USD 15.6 billion coming from exports of thermal coal for power stations. Coking coal generated $22.4 billion of export revenue in 2012/13 financial year with thermal coal bringing in $16.1 billion during the same period.
According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences  the economically demonstrated reserves to production ratios for bituminous coal and lignite in Australia are 111 years and 539 years respectively, however these figures do not account for growth in production. Bituminous coal exports from Australia have been growing at a rate of 5% (on average during the last 20 years). If this rate of growth would-be maintained to extinction all current economically demonstrated black coal in the country would be depleted in under 40 years; however continued growth at that rate is unlikely to occur for such a long period, and this estimate does not reflect growth in the demonstrated resource. Explorations in the last decade has resulted in a significant increase in inferred coal resources which are now almost double the economically demonstrated resource.
|Mine||State||Location||Ultimate owner||Coordinates||Type of coal||Million tons[clarification needed] mined pa||Million tons[clarification needed] exported pa||Major buyers||Major method|
|Anglesea||VIC||Anglesea||Alcoa of Australia||Lignite||?||nil||Anglesea Power Station||Open Cut|
|Bengalla||NSW||Muswellbrook||Coal and Allied||Thermal||?||?||?||Open Cut|
|Callide||QLD||Callide (Biloela)||Anglo American ||Thermal||8.5||?||?||Open Cut|
|Capcoal||QLD||Middlemount||Anglo American||Hard Coking Coal & PCI||7||?||?||Open Cut & Underground|
|Dawson||QLD||Dawson (Moura)||Anglo Coal||Soft Coking & Thermal||7||?||?||Open Cut|
|Drayton||NSW||Hunter Valley||Anglo Coal||Soft Coking & Thermal||7||?||?||Open Cut|
|Broadmeadows||QLD||Moranbah||BMA||Hard Coking Coal||4||?||?||Underground|
|Blair Athol||QLD||Clermont||Rio Tinto||Thermal||12||?||?||Open Cut|
|Burton||QLD||Nebo||Peabody Energy Australia||Thermal/Coking||4||?||?||Open Cut|
|Callide||QLD||Biloela||Anglo American||?||4||?||?||Open Cut|
|Coppabella||QLD||Coppabella||Peabody Energy Australia||?||7||?||?||Open Cut|
|Goonyella/Riverside||QLD||Moranbah||BMA||Hard Coking Coal||11||?||?||Open Cut/Underground|
|Griffin Coal||WA||Collie||LANCO Infratech||Bitumous||5||nil||Bluewaters Power, Synergy Power||Open Cut|
|Hail Creek||QLD||Nebo||Rio Tinto Coal Australia (RTCA)||Hard Coking Coal||4.5||all||?||Open Cut|
|Jellinbah||QLD||Bluff, Queensland||Jellinbah Group||PCI and Soft Coking||4.6||4.6||Various steelmakers - Japan, China, India and Brazil||Open Cut|
|Lake Vermont||QLD||Dysart, Queensland||Jellinbah Group||Hard Coking Coal and PCI||8.0||8.0||Various steelmakers - Japan, China, India and Brazil||Open Cut|
|Loy Yang||VIC||Traralgon||Loy Yang Power||Lignite||?||nil||Loy Yang Power Station||Open Cut|
|Moorvale||QLD||Moranbah||Peabody Energy Australia||Thermal/PCI||?||?||?||Open Cut|
|Mount Arthur Coal (MAC)||NSW||Muswellbrook||BHP Billiton||Thermal||15||12||?||Open Cut|
|Mount Thorley Warkworth (MTW)||NSW||Singleton||Coal & Allied||Thermal/Coking||?||?||?||Open Cut|
|Moranbah North||QLD||Moranbah||Anglo American||Hard Coking Coal||4.5||?||?||Underground|
|Morwell||VIC||Morwell||International Power||Lignite||20||nil||Hazelwood Power Station,
|Norwich Park||QLD||Dysart||BMA||Soft Coking Coal||6||all||?||Open Cut|
|Newlands||QLD||Glenden||Xstrata||Thermal/Coking||12||?||?||Open Cut & Underground|
|Peak Downs||QLD||Moranbah||BMA||Hard Coking Coal||13||all||?||Open Cut|
|Saraji||QLD||Dysart||BMA||Hard Coking Coal||7.5||all||?||Open Cut|
|Ulan||NSW||Ulan via Mudgee||Xstrata||Thermal||5||?||?||Open Cut & Underground|
|Wesfarmers Premier Coal||WA||Collie||Wesfarmers||Bitumous||3.5||nil||Synergy Power||Open Cut|
|Yallourn||VIC||Yallourn||TRUenergy||Lignite||?||nil||Yallourn Power Station||Open Cut|
|Bulga Coal||NSW||Singleton||Oakbridge Group (Managed by Xstrata Coal)||Thermal/Coking||10.8||All||Japan, Nippon Steel, Nippon Oil||Open Cut|
Major export markets for Australian coal
|Country/Area||Million Tons Coking||Million Tons Steaming||Million Tons Total||Rank||% of exports|
Major coal export ports
Major coal mining companies
|Company||Total coal mined
(million tons (Mtpa))
|Anglo American Metallurgical Coal Ltd||32.00||a. Anglo Coal Callide Mine, Queensland b. Anglo Coal Capcoal Mine Via Middlemount Middlemount QLD c. Anglo Coal Dartbrook Mine PO Box 517 Muswellbrook NSW 2333 d. Anglo Coal Drayton Mine PMB 9 Muswellbrook NSW e. Anglo Coal Foxleigh Mine PO Box 21 Middlemount QLD f. Anglo Coal Grasstree Mine Via Middlemount Private Mail Bag Middlemount QLD g. Anglo Coal Moranbah North Mine PO Box 172 Moranbah QLD h Dawson mine, one of Queensland’s leading export coal operations, is owned by the Moura Joint Venture, comprising Anglo Coal Australia Pty Ltd (51%) and Mitsui Coal Holdings Pty Ltd (49%)|
|Bloomfield Collieries Pty Ltd||0.88||Bloomfield at East Maitland and Rix’s Creek at Singleton|
|BHP Billiton - Hunter Valley Energy Coal||15.0||Mount Arthur Coal, Muswellbrook, Hunter Valley NSW|
|BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) Coal Operations Pty Ltd||58.0||a. Blackwater b.Broadmeadow Mine c. Goonyella Riverside d. Gregory Crinum e. Peak Downs Mine f. Saraji Mine g. South Walker Creek Mine h. Poitrel Mine is situated south-east of the town of Moranbah i. Hay Point Coal Terminal, located 38 km south of Mackay|
|Centennial Coal Company Ltd||20.0||Newstan, Awaba (Closed), Myuna, Mandalong, Mannering, Angus Place, Springvale, Charbon, Berrima, Clarence, Cooranbong (Closed), Munmorah (Closed)|
|Coalpac Pty Ltd||1.20||Cullen Valley Mine located in the Western Coalfield of New South Wales, Australia|
|Cornwall Coal Company||0.725||NE Tasmania|
|Enhance Place Pty Ltd||0.20||Colliery near Lithgow, NSW|
|Ensham Resources Pty Ltd||9.0||Pits A,B,C & D either side of the Nogoa River - referred to as the ‘Ensham Project’ - and the ‘Yongala’ pit, which is located approximately 5 km to the north of the main Ensham operation|
|Felix Resources Limited||3.90||a. Singleton in the Hunter Valley b. Central Queensland’s Bowen Basin c. Emerald in Queensland’s Bowen Basin d. The Moolarben coal project is a world class coal asset located 40 km east of Mudgee in the Upper Hunter Valley e.Harrybrandt exploration project, near Nebo in Queensland’s Bowen Basin|
|Foxleigh Joint Venture||Central Queensland|
|Yancoal Australia||14.00||Donaldson, Gloucester Basin, Monash, Middlemount, Yarrabee, Ashton, Moolarben, Austar|
|Idemitsu Australia Resources Pty Ltd||8.00||western Bowen Basin|
|BHPBilliton Illawarra Coal||8.00||Appin, Westcliff & Dendrobium Collieries in the Illawarra and Wollondilly regions south of Sydney, New South Wales|
|Jellinbah Group Pty Ltd||8.60||Jellinbah and Lake Vermont Mines in the Bowen Basin of central Queensland|
|Lithgow Coal Company Pty Ltd||1.00||Cullen Valley Mine located in the Western Coalfield of New South Wales|
|Macarthur Coal Limited||5.50||Queensland's Bowen Basin|
|Muswellbrook Coal Company Ltd||a. Drayton Mine – is an open-cut coal mine operated by Anglo Coal (Drayton Management) Pty Ltd. It is located approximately 13 kilometres south east of Muswellbrook|
|New Hope Corporation Ltd||3.92||Acland on the Darling Downs and at Rosewood near Ipswich|
|Peabody Pacific Pty Ltd||22.00||a.Burton mine is located in the Bowen Basin b. North Goonyella underground and Eaglefield open-cut mines are located at the northern end of the Bowen Basin c. Millennium mine is located near the town of Moranbah in the Bowen Basin d. Wilkie Creek mine is located in the Surat Basin of south-east Queensland e. Wilpinjong mine is located 10 kilometres south-east of Ulan mine and 40 kilometres north-east of Mudgee f.Wambo is one of Peabody's largest operating mines and is located in the Hunter Valley g. Chain Valley is located in the Newcastle coalfield on the southern shore of Lake Macquarie h. Metropolitan is located in the Southern coalfields, about 50 kilometres south of Sydney.|
|QCoal||n/a||owns or co-own five mines within the Bowen Basin|
|Rio Tinto Coal Australia Pty Ltd||5.80||Blair Athol, Hail Creek and Kestrel Mines and is currently constructing the Clermont Mine Project, all in Queensland and in New South Wales, Rio Tinto Coal Australia manages Coal & Allied's operations at Mount Thorley Warkworth, Hunter Valley Operations and Bengalla|
|Vale||8.00||(a) Integra Coal, Hunter Valley, open cast and underground mines, 61.2% owned by Vale. (b) Carborough Downs Mine, Central Queensland, underground longwall mine owned 80% by Vale. (c) Isaac Plains Joint Venture, Central Queensland, open cast mine owned 50% by Vale.|
|Wesfarmers Coal Ltd||2.16||a. Curragh mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin b. Premier Coal mine at Collie in Western Australia’s south west c. Bengalla mine in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales|
|Whitehaven Coal Mining Pty Ltd||1.00||Gunnedah Region of New South Wales|
|Xstrata Coal Pty Ltd||29.30||a. Westside, New South Wales, Australia b. West Wallsend, New South Wales Australia c. Bulga, New South Wales d. Beltana, New South Wales e. Narama, New South Wales f.Mangoola, Hunter Valley, New South Wales g.Mount Owen - The Mount Owen Complex consists of the Mount Owen, Ravensworth East and Glendell open cut coal mines h.Ravensworth, New South Wales i.Ulan Coal m. Baal Bone, New South Wales j. Cumnock, New South Wales k. Narama, New South Wales|
The Australian community is understandably concerned about any mining activity that could place private or public property or valuable landscapes at risk. The coal industry claims however that extensive rehabilitation of areas mined helps to ensure that land capability, after coal mining, meets agreed and appropriate standards.
Coal is the principal fossil fuel used in power generation not only in Australia but in many other countries. Links between coal mining, coal burning, and climate change are being discussed widely in Australia.
On 27 November 2006 the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales judge Justice Nicola Pain made the historic decision to set aside the Director-General's acceptance of the Environmental Assessment for the Anvil Hill coal mine, on the grounds that it did not include a comprehensive greenhouse gas assessment, even though the proposed mining of coal was for export. However, on 7 June 2007 the planning minister for NSW Frank Sartor reversed this decision and approved the mine, attaching a list of 80 conditions to the mines operation including conservation offsets.
Environmental regulation of coal mining
The main Commonwealth environmental laws potentially applicable to coal mining are the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 EPBC Act and the Clean Energy Act 2011. The EPBC Act will only be triggered if a proposed action is likely to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance, for example federally listed threatened species.
New South Wales
Relevant laws are mining law, land use planning law, biodiversity law and water law.
Coal mining requires a pollution control ('environment protection') licence under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW) if it exceeds the following thresholds set out in Schedule 1 of the Act: if it is mining, processing or handling of coal (including tailings and chitter) at underground mines or open cut mines and (a) it has a capacity to produce more than 500 tonnes of coal per day, or (b) it has disturbed, is disturbing or will disturb a total surface area of more than 4 hectares of land by: (i) clearing or excavating, or (ii) constructing dams, ponds, drains, roads, railways or conveyors, or (iii) storing or depositing overburden or coal (including tailings and chitter).
Clean coal technologies
The Federal Government has, as part of its pledge to mitigate global warming, committed A$100 million to commission a climate change-fighting "clean coal" and carbon sequestration research institute to make Australia a leader in this emerging technology. Carbon sequestration technology is not expected to be commercially viable for at least 5 to 10 years, but the Federal Labor government argues that it is a vital technology given Australia's reliance on coal-fired electricity. The merits of "clean coal" have been highly disputed by some technical experts and environment awareness groups.
- Mining in Australia
- Carbon capture and storage in Australia
- Coal phase out
- Greenhouse Mafia
- List of proposed coal-fired power stations in Australia
- Mitigation of global warming in Australia
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