Coal Mining: Australia Use Case

Figure-1 AustraliaIn these images we see methane measurements of a coal mining site in Australia taken by our satellite, GHGSat-C1 Iris. She has detected three methane plumes at the mine emitting about 15,000 kg/hr of methane. If the mine emitted this amount of methane for 1 full hour, the volume of methane could provide electricity for 61 homes for a year.

The world’s fourth largest coal producing nation, gas from mines accounts for a significant proportion of Australia’s (man-made) methane emissions. While underground mines contribute only 24% of the country’s coal production, they account for over 72% of methane emissions from coal mining.[1] Coal Mine Methane (CMM) is an inevitable by-product of the production process: as coal is extracted from seams, rocks are displaced, and the gas released. For safety reasons, methane has to be vented out of the mine.

Ventilation Air Methane (VAM) from mines is typically at a low concentration, making it more expensive to capture and extract. However, technologies to make profitable use of it (for example to generate power) are continuously improving. In addition, mines continue to release methane long after their productive life is over, creating long-term legacy issues for operators, regulators and communities living nearby.

Under the Paris climate agreement, Australia has committed to reducing emissions by 2030 to 26% -28% below 2005 levels. However, the country’s reliance on coal exports, and the planning approval of a major new coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, means methane emissions could be set to rise or could be recovered as an energy resource for operations.

GHGSat’s unique fleet of high-resolution satellites can measure methane emissions from individual industrial facilities, including coal mines, anywhere in the world. This means mine operators and regulators can get the data they need, quickly and cost effectively, so they can optimise operations, minimise impacts and meet environmental targets.