Coal and Allied has begun trialling a coal bed methane extraction project at its Hunter Valley Mount Thorley Warkworth mine to reduce its emissions footprint.
The company’s $5 million pilot project aims to capture and remove the gas prior to mining.
Gas wells, which will eventually be mined, are currently being drilled by contractor McDermot Drilling.
One of the wells is being used to trail new drilling techniques to drill horizontally up to 200 metres from the initial well.
It is hoped the horizontal drilling will open up more pathways for the gas to flow, which ultimately would reduce the number of wells required to extract coal seam methane gas.
Coal and Allied’s manager of new developments Chris Lauritzen said methane was 21 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
“More than 60% of our total greenhouse gas emissions on site are ‘fugitive’ emissions,” he said.
“If we can reduce that by capturing some of the methane gas from the coal prior to mining , we will be able to substantially reduce our impact on the environment.
“During the trial we will be flaring off the gas, which converts the methane into less harmful carbon dioxide.
“But, if the coal bed methane gas is available in sufficient quantities and flows freely, it could even open up a new source of fuel to generate electricity.”