Coal in Australia

Coal in Australia is mined primarily in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. It is used to generate electricity and 54% of the coal mined in Australia is exported, mostly to eastern Asia. In 2000/01, 258.5 million tonnes of coal was mined, and 193.6 million tonnes exported. Coal also provides about 85% of Australia’s electricity production.[1] In fiscal year 2008/09, 487 million tonnes of coal was mined, and 261 million tonnes exported. Australia is the world’s leading coal exporter.

Coal mining in Australia has been the subject of criticism from members of the environmental movement, because burning coal releases carbon dioxide, which is generally understood to contribute to climate change, global warming, sea level rise and the effects of global warming on Australia. The burning of coal produces 42.1% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, not counting export coal, based on 2004 GHG inventory.

Both Greenpeace Australia Pacific (Energy [R]evolution and Beyond Zero Emissions (Zero Carbon Australia 2020 have produced reports claiming a transition can be made to renewable energy and Greenpeace has called for a just transition for coal based communities, but others argue at present there is no strong evidence of a viable alternative for the vast majority of Australia’s electricity generation, or for the significant economic and social benefits coal mining delivers to regional communities. Coal Seam Gas, methane-based gas associated with deposits of coal has historically been flared, however over the past 10 years has been recovered and used to generate further electricity. Read More

Information on coal

coalCoal is a fossil fuel formed in ecosystems where plant remains were preserved by water and mud from oxidization and biodegradation, thus sequestering atmospheric carbon. It is composed primarily of carbon and hydrogen along with small quantities of other elements, notably sulfur. Coal is extracted from the ground by coal mining, either underground mining or open pit mining (surface mining).

Coal is the largest source of fuel for the generation of electricity world-wide, as well as the largest world-wide source of carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and these emissions contribute to climate change and global warming. In terms of carbon dioxide emissions, coal is slightly ahead of petroleum and about double that of natural gas

Four Basic Varieties of Coal
Anthracite: Sometimes also called “hard coal,” anthracite was formed from bituminous coal when great pressures developed in folded rock strata during the creation of mountain ranges. Anthracite has the highest energy content of all coals and is used for space heating and generating electricity. Anthracite averages 25 million Btu per ton.

Bituminous
¬†Bituminous or “soft” coal formed when greater pressure was applied to subbituminous coal. This is the type most commonly used for electric power generation in the U.S.. It has a higher heating value than either lignite or subbituminous, but less than that of anthracite. Bituminous coal averages 24 million Btu per ton.

Subbituminous
Subbituminous coal formed from lignite when it came under higher pressure. This coal is a combustible mineral formed from the remains of trees, ferns and other plants that existed and died during the time of the dinosaurs. A dull black coal with a higher heating value than lignite that is used primarily for generating electricity and for space heating. Subbituminous coal averages 18 million Btu per ton.

Lignite
 Increased pressures and heat from overlying strata caused buried peat to dry and harden into lignite. Lignite is a brownish-black coal with generally high moisture and ash content and lower heating value. However, it is an important form of energy for generating electricity, particularly in the American Southwest. Lignite averages 14 million Btu per ton