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New NSW Facility Uses Tech to Combat Methane Emissions

A new facility, featuring cutting-edge technology to tackle fugitive methane emissions, will be established at the Illawarra coal mine of a mining and metals company headquartered in Perth, thanks to an AU$ 15 million grant from the NSW Government.

The region’s Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Resources recently announced funding to establish a pilot Ventilation Air Methane (VAM) abatement project that will be used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the innovative technology for the industry.

The Minister noted that the pilot project, which is being co-funded by the company will help to encourage greater investment in, and uptake of, VAM abatement technologies to significantly reduce fugitive methane emissions from coal mining operations in NSW. He noted that after a competitive Expression of Interest process, the company was confirmed as the successful tenderer to deliver a world-leading, commercial-scale ventilation air emissions abatement facility.

The NSW mining industry is committed to reducing fugitive emissions from coal mining, which accounts for about 8.9% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, with most of those fugitive emissions coming in the form of VAM, the Minister added.

The government’s scientific trials in partnership with the CSIRO are delivering promising findings of 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.

The global demand for NSW coal has hit an all-time high, contributing to record royalty returns of approximately AU$ 2 billion in the 2021 calendar year, keeping 22 thousand people directly employed with flow-on benefits to other industries including freight, manufacturing, construction and steel production.

Coal mining continues to play an important role in our regional communities and while we’re supporting the responsible development of coal resources, we’re also working toward a lower-carbon future. A co-contribution of AU$ 4.5 million will be provided by the mining company to establish the facility.

Recent research found that the global temperature is expected to rise by an average of 2 °C (optimistically) to 4 °C (in the worst-case scenario) by the year 2100 compared to the average temperature of the Industrial Revolution era (estimated by the IPCC Working Group 1).

Technological progress and population growth, enabled by the exploitation of fossil fuels, have led to a 68% rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations and anthropogenic carbon emissions. While the production of renewable energy production continues to rise, the rate of consumption for non-renewable energy, fossil fuels, in particular, also continues to grow as a result of the growing global population and the rapid expansion of the global economy. Extant studies show increasing the consumption of non-renewable energy decreases carbon emission abatement globally.

Some researchers believe that developing green and sustainable-energy economies requires innovative technologies and energy-environmental resolutions to reduce carbon footprints while transforming the global economy.

For example, the NSW Government’s Clean Technology Research and Development Grants Program provides grants for early-stage development of new low emissions technologies, services or processes.

The purpose of the $40 million Clean Technology Innovation Research and Development Grants Program is to invest in the research and development of commercially viable technologies, services or processes that have the potential to significantly reduce emissions of high emitting or hard-to-abate sectors within the NSW economy up to, and beyond, 2030.

The objectives of the grants are to:

  • support and progress early-stage clean technology research and development where a clear market opportunity has been identified
  • promote collaboration and knowledge sharing.

These objectives support the ultimate mission to create an environment in New South Wales where innovation is supported so new technologies are domestically developed, tested and used in the market. This will position New South Wales as a leading investment destination and unlocks export opportunities in the coming decades.

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