According to new analysis using satellite data, Australia’s largest coal-producing region emits methane equivalent to the greenhouse gas effect of 30 million internal combustion engine passenger cars.

Research by Kayrros, an energy industry consulting group, shows that the Bowen Basin, which straddles the border of New South Wales and Queensland, will release an average of 1.6 million tons of methane per year in 2019 and 2020.

Based on the effectiveness of methane as a greenhouse gas, annual emissions are equivalent to 134 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions of a medium-sized European country or 30 million internal combustion engine vehicles.

The Bowen Basin is the world’s largest exporter of metallurgical coal, and Anglo American and BHP Billiton are one of its main producers. Metallurgical coal is one of the key raw materials required for steelmaking.

Methane emissions are the second largest cause of global warming, second only to carbon dioxide. They are growing much faster than scientists expected, Last year it surged in record numbers.

Identifying these leaks can help governments, investors, and the public hold companies accountable and Accelerate emission reduction.

Methane leaks or plumes can come from a variety of sources, including oil and gas infrastructure, landfills, wetlands, and livestock. Mining also releases methane, and most of the industry’s emissions are generated during coal mining.

Although oil and gas companies are under pressure to reduce methane emissions, the mining industry has received less scrutiny, although most major companies have pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The lack of accurate data has always been an obstacle, but by using European Space Agency satellite data, Kayrros stated that it can measure methane emissions throughout the Bowen Basin and track their evolution over time.

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Bryce Kelly, an associate professor at the University of New South Wales, said satellite-based methane emission estimates are significant because they indicate that “we should target mitigation expenditures to minimize or eliminate the use of emission-intensive commodities”.

However, Kelly pointed out that Kayrros’ report needs to come from Higher resolution ground And low-level airborne research. “We have almost no information to cross-check the results because of the lack of public domain data and the lack of independent measurement and auditing,” he said.

Kayrros pointed out that the mining industry has established technologies to capture methane, which can be used for on-site power generation or sold to local natural gas networks. These measures include venting methane from the coal seam before mining the coal seam and capturing gas from the mine ventilation system.

Anglo American said it captured a lot of methane emissions. BHP Billiton could not be immediately reached for comment.

Miners operating in the Bowen Basin have captured half of their potential methane emissions through these methods. If deployed on a wider scale, the capture method can reduce methane emissions by 650,000 tons per year without major investment, which is equivalent to removing 12 million cars from the road.

“At a cost of tens of millions of dollars, you can reduce about 50 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year in a few years,” said Christian Lelong, Kayrros’ director of natural resources and the author of the report. That report. “For me, in terms of scale and cost, this is a mitigation opportunity that is very difficult to surpass.”


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