Queensland passes law to ban underground coal gasification


The Queensland Government has imposed a ban on underground coal gasification (UCG) after legislation to the effect was passed by the state Parliament.

The policy move also covers in situ gasification of oil shale and comes in the wake of uncertainty regarding commercial scale operations of the UCG industry and lack of established research on its environmental impact.

UCG involves burning coal underground in order to convert coal to a synthesised gas, which is processed on the surface to create products such as aviation fuels and synthetic diesel.

In 2009, the state government allowed three companies to undertake a trial run of UCG operations on a small scale.

"Issues associated with two of the three trial projects and the uncertainty about commercial scale operations have highlighted significant risks with this industry which are just not acceptable."

Queensland natural resources and mines minister Dr Anthony Lynham said: “An independent scientific panel report on the pilot trials found that sufficient scientific and technical information was not yet available to reach a final conclusion about the operation of this industry on a commercial scale.

“Issues associated with two of the three trial projects and the uncertainty about commercial scale operations have highlighted significant risks with this industry which are just not acceptable.”

The government is under the belief that the potential risks posed by the industry outweigh job creation and economic benefits.

UCG is unlike coal seam gas production, which operates within Queensland’s regulatory framework.

The policy to ban UCG was first announced in April last year.