The Queensland Government’s decision to ban underground coal gasification (UCG) has come as a shock to the gas industry.
One resource company, Carbon Energy, voiced its surprise over the decision, stating it had only recently held discussions with the ministers for Natural Resources and Mining (DNRM) regarding the completion of the Independent Scientific Panel (ISP) technology process.
The panel assessed the range of technical and environmental issues caused by UCG and to report these – with recommendations for future plant management – to the government.
Approximately $150 million was invested in the UCG technology, established in collaboration with the CSIRO, with procedures set by the QLD government and oversight by the ISP.
The decision also negates Carbon Energy’s Mineral Development License Renewal, which was granted in December 2015 following the facility’s Decommissioning Report and Rehabilitation Plan.
Carbon Energy has passed each scientific and environmental test conducted by three successive Queensland governments over the passed eight years.
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) also announced its disappointment over the decision, stating it was done with no prior consultation.
QRC acting chief executive Greg Lane said the unexpected decision, without ‘triggering evidence’, would raise concern for investment and business confidence.
“That the government has made this decision to forego 1000 potential construction jobs, as well as maintaining hundreds of manufacturing jobs in the state due to low cost gas, suggests the serious concerns it had,” Lane stated.
“That no signoff has been received on the completion of the Independent Scientific Panel process denies Carbon Energy the opportunity to commercialise its technology in other jurisdictions with different UCG policies, and is hopefully an administrative matter to be quickly rectified.”
The QRC is calling on the government to provide evidence of the supposed environmental risks of UCG projects.