The Galilee Basin is a Permian geological basin in the western Queensland region of Australia. It is located west of the Surat Basin and is part of the Great Artesian Basin drainage basin. Towns close to proposed mines in the basin include Alpha and Jericho, but the basin extends north past Hughenden, south to Charleville and west beyond Winton to Middleton.
Vast coal deposits in the Galilee Basin are proposed for coal mining for export markets. The mines require substantial rail and port expansion and would export coal through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The nine proposed mines would together output coal that, when burnt, would produce around 700 million tonnes of CO2 per year. The most advanced proposal is Adani's Carmichael coal mine (60 mtpa peak output), currently facing controversies about viability, environmental issues and legal challenges.
The western extension is one of two troughs in the basin and is known as the Lovelle Depression. The Koburra Trough is located in the north east of the basin. The Springsure Shelf is an outcrop straddling the south east border. The Canaway Ridge separates the Galilee Basin from the Cooper Basin to the south west. Sediments in the basin are completely non-marine.
It contains deposits of thermal coal and has been described as Australia's newest mining province. Exploration of coal seam gas, conventional oil and tight oil and shale gas resources is also being conducted. In 1981, the Queensland Department of Mines estimated that demonstrated resources reached 800 million tonnes near Alpha alone. In 2008, Waratah Coal announced the discovery of 4,400 million tonnes of coal in the basin.
Coal mines and infrastructure
Nine coal mines have been proposed to be built in the basin. All of these mines require substantial capital expenditure on rail and port expansion.
Greenpeace calculated these mines would together produce 330 million tonnes of coal per year for export markets at peak capacity. Many of these mines would be bigger than any mines currently operating in Australia.
|Proposed Coal Mine||Full production (saleable coal mtpa)||Estimated CO2 from combustion (mtpa)|
|Alpha Coal mine||30||64.7|
|Alpha North mine||40||85.6|
|Alpha West mine||24||51.8|
|China First mine||40||85.6|
|China Stone mine||60||128.4|
|Degulla Project||35 (est)||74.9|
|Kevin’s Corner mine||27||57.8|
|South Galilee Coal Project||14||28.2|
The most advanced proposal is the Carmichael mine, which would also be the biggest.
In July 2014, Greg Hunt, the Australian Minister for Environment approved Adani's proposal for the Carmichael coal mine and its associated rail link to the coast. The AU$16.5 billion project is expected to create the largest coal mine in Australia and one of the largest in the world. The Carmichael mine has been highly controversial, facing a number of protests and legal challenges. In August 2015 the Federal Court set aside the federal approval for the mine, by consent with Adani and the Department of Environment, who had failed to properly consider impacts on endangered animals in the area. The Department is currently reconsidering the proposal.
In May 2012, the Government of Queensland granted approval to Hancock Coal and GVK to construct the Alpha Coal Project. The mine is intended to export 30 million tonnes of thermal coal annually from 2015. 1,000 exployees will be needed once the mine is operational.
Mineralogy, controlled by Clive Palmer, owns thermal coal deposits in the Galilee Basin, which he claims amounts to around 100 billion tonnes of coal. However, this amount of coal resource is not substantiated by official figures. Palmer's proposed China First mine which is owned by Waratah Coal, would result in the destruction of Bimblebox Nature Refuge, which is part of Australia's National Reserve System and is listed as a conservation area of State Significance in Queensland. The reserve is co-owned local landowner Paola Cassoni who is adamant the endangered black-throated finch must be protected.
The mine is expected to export 40 million tonnes of coal a year and according to Palmer will proceed even though one of the original supporters, Vitol, has left the project. China First Coal includes an open-cut, underground longwall mine, standard gauge railway and port facility.
Abbot Point Coal Terminal
Port facilities at Abbot Point are expected to be the export point for coal sourced from the Galilee Basin. The expansion plans have faced significant controversy over concerns about impacts from dredging and dumping of spoil on the nearby Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the impacts of exported coal on the Great Barrier Reef. The current proposal for terminal expansion involves dumping dredge spoil within the terminal area.
A proposal for a coal-fired power station in the area has been placed on hold. Water supply for mines in the basin was once provided as a reason supporting the development of the Bradfield Scheme.
Greenhouse gas emissions
The combined emissions from the Galilee have been estimated at 700 million tonnes of CO2 per year. This is 1.3 times Australia's domestic emissions. If the Galilee Basin coal were its own country, it would be the seventh highest emitter, between Germany and Iran.
|Source||Emissions (2009 CO2 from burning fuel)|
|1 People’s Rep. of China||6832|
|2 United States||5195|
|4 Russian Federation||1533|
|7 Galilee Basin Total
(emissions from maximum coal output)
|8 Islamic Rep. of Iran||533|
|10 Republic of Korea||515|
|11 United Kingdom||466|
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