South32 works toward a cleaner coal future

Bundaberg coal

South32 will contribute $4.5 million to fund a new facility that will feature cutting-edge technology to tackle fugitive methane emissions.

The facility will be built at South32’s Illawarra coal mine, with the New South Wales government contributing a $15 million grant.

The pilot Ventilation Air Methane (VAM) abatement program will be used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the technology.

“The NSW mining industry is committed to reducing fugitive emissions from coal mining, which account for about 8.9 per cent of our state’s greenhouse gas emissions, with most of those fugitive emissions coming in the form of VAM,” Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for resources Paul Toole said.

A potent greenhouse gas, methane accounts for around 5 per cent of Australia’s CO2 emissions.

It is also a potential explosion hazard, and the VAM program will seek to provide industry-wide benefits.

“Our scientific trials in partnership with the CSIRO are delivering promising findings about abatement technologies and expanding these trials at an operating mine with a commercial scale facility will show how technology can help to support a stronger and safer coal mining industry,” Toole said.

Global demand for NSW coal has hit a record high, contributing to royalty returns of around $2 billion.

These returns have kept 22 thousand people employed, with industries including freight, manufacturing, construction and steel production experiencing positive flow-on benefits.

Toole recognised the importance of coal mining in regional communities, acknowledging development of coal resources had to be done responsibly while working toward a lower carbon future.

“Today we’re putting our money where our mouth is to encourage innovation in the coal mining industry with technology that could have applications in coal mines around the world. I thank and congratulate South32 for its commitment to innovation and its partnership with the NSW Government as we strive for continuous improvement in the mining sector,” Toole said.

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