Coal mining in Australia

Coal mining in Australia

Coal is mined in every state of Australia as well as the Northern Territory. It is used to generate electricity and is exported. 75% of the coal mined in Australia is exported, mostly to eastern Asia. In 2000/01, 258.5 million tonnes of coal was mined, and 193.6 million tonnes exported. Coal also provides about 85% of Australia's electricity production.cite web |url= |title=The Importance of Coal in the Modern World - Australia |publisher=Gladstone Centre for Clean Coal |accessdate=2007-03-17]

Coal mining in Australia has become more controversial because of the strong link between burning coal, including exported coal, and climate change, global warming and sea level rise and the effects of global warming on Australia. [CSIRO's Climate Change Impacts on Australia and the Benefits of Early Action to Reduce Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions" [] ] .

The proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme which followed the draft report of the Garnaut Climate Change Review will put a price on carbon through a reducing cap and trade emissions trading scheme and this is likely to impact most heavily on brown coal usage within Australia (particularly in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria) for power generation.

Forms of coal

Two forms of coal are mined in Australia, depending on the region: high quality black coal and lower quality brown coal.

Black coal is found in Queensland and New South Wales, and is used for both domestic power generation and for export overseas. It is generally mined underground before being transported by rail to power stations, or export shipping terminals. Black coal was also once exported to other Australian states for power generation and industrial boilers. Black coal has twice the greenhouse gas emissions as natural gas.

Brown coal is found in Victoria and South Australia, and is of lower quality due a higher ash and water content. As a result Victoria adopted German power station and briquette technology in the 1920s to utilize the brown coal reserves of the Latrobe Valley. Today there are three open cut brown coal mines in Victoria used for baseload power generation. Burning brown coal has 3 times the greenhouse gas emissions as natural gas.

Fast facts

# Coal is responsible for 42.1% of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, not counting export coal, based on 2004 GHG inventory. [] (Australia has 564.7 Mt CO2e. Of that, Energy was responsible for 387.2 Mt CO2e. Of that, Stationary Energy was responsible for 279.9 Mt CO2e. Approximately 85% of stationary energy is produced by burning coal. Coal is therefore responsible for approx 237.9 Mt CO2e or 42.1% of Australia's total GHG emissions. There needs to be minor adjustments for the amounts of major hydro electric, gas, wind and solar power to arrive at a more exact amount and proportion, which is likely to be higher because major hydro produces negligible emissions.)
# Australia is the world's largest exporter of black coal, a position it has held since 1984
# Australia has more than 42 billion tonnes of economically recoverable reserves of black coal throughout Australia. The production for export markets is currently based on deposits in Queensland and New South Wales
# Australia is the fourth largest coal producer in the world
# Australia produced 258.5 million tonnes of coal in 2000/01, of which nearly 230 million tonnes was saleable coal
# Coal is Australia's largest export commodity
# Australia exports 75% of its coal production, making the country the largest coal exporter in the world - a position Australia has held since 1986
# Exports of 193.6 million tonnes in 2000/01 were worth $10.8 billion or 10% of Australia's merchandise trade
# Coal provides about 85% of Australia's electricity generation requirements
# The coal industry employs 18,840 workers directly and many more indirectly
# Productivity has increased by 15% annually since 1996/97
# Australia has about 77 billion tonnes of coal resources
# The Asian market accounts for 80% of Australian coal exports with the top three markets being Japan (47%), Korea (12%) and Taiwan (9%)
# In the metallurgical coal market, Australia is competitive in exporting coal to the Asian region and Europe.
# In the thermal coal market, Australia is competitive in exporting coal to the Asian region, with its main competitors being China and Indonesia. Australia is less competitive in exporting coal to the European market due to shipping distances, and as such the main competition is from South Africa, Colombia, USA, and the Russian Federation.

Major mines

Major Australian Coal Mines [] []

Major overseas end users of Australian coal

Environmental impacts

The Australian community is understandably concerned about any mining activity that could place private or public property or valuable landscapes at risk. Extensive rehabilitation of areas mined helps to ensure that land capability, after coal mining, meets agreed and appropriate standards. [ [ Reducing the Environmental Impacts of Coal Mining] ]

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. [ [ Australian coal mine blocked over climate impact] ] [ [ Climate concerns fuel coal mine opposition campaign] ]

On 27 November 2006 the NSW Land & Environment Court 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 mine's operation including conservation offsets. [ [ NSW Govt approves Anvil Hill coal mine] ]


See also

*Mining in Australia
*Energy in Victoria
*Coal Mining
*Wallarah 2 Coal Project
*Australian Coal Alliance
*List of proposed coal fired power stations in Australia
*Carbon capture and storage in Australia
*Mining in Western Australia
*List of collieries in Newcastle (Australia)
*List of active power stations in New South Wales
*List of active power stations in Western Australia
*List of active power stations in South Australia
*List of active power stations in Victoria, Australia
*List of active power stations in Queensland
*Greenhouse Mafia
*Mitigation of global warming in Australia

External links

* [ "Sonoma Coal"] - Sonoma Coal Project
* [ "Illawarra Coal"] - An unofficial history of coal mining in the Illawarra
* []
*"Collinsville Coalface Experience" []
* [ Can geosequestration save the coal industry?]

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