Alpha test coal pit in the Galilee Basin

Alpha Coal test pit is currently the only coal mine in the Galilee Basin.

Coal contributes to greenhouse gas emissions throughout its life-cycle, including through fugitive methane and use of explosives during mining, transportation including rail and shipping to export facilities, and – most significantly – the burning of coal to produce energy.

There are plans in place to build nine mines in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.  The greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of coal from these mines is estimated at 705 million tonnes every year, more than Australia’s entire annual domestic emissions of 542mtpa.

The greenhouse gas emissions generated by the construction of coal mines — through vegetation clearing, waste production, transport, and the establishment of associated infrastructure and mine access — is outlined in documentation prepared by proponents during the approvals process. However, the greenhouse gas emissions generated from the burning of coal is not taken into account.

Analysis based on the proponents’ own figures for coal production found that the mines planned for development in the Galilee Basin would have a combined production capacity of 330 million tonnes of coal per annum (mtpa). This figure is larger than the entire current coal export output of Australia.

“Converting these coal production figures to greenhouse gas emissions, Greenpeace estimates that if all the proposed mines reached their estimated maximum production, the combustion of the coal from the Galilee Basin would result in additional CO2 emissions of up to 705 million tonnes every year.”
— Based on proponents production figures, see this report for analysis methodology.

Emissions of projects currently approved for the Galilee Basin

Carmichael Coal Project: The mine would have a maximum production capacity of 60 mtpa. This amount of coal, when burnt for electricity generation, would produce 128.4 million tonnes of CO2, greater than the 2009 CO2 emissions from fuel combustion in Sweden, Norway and Denmark combined.  

Alpha Coal Project: This project would have a maximum production capacity of 30 mtpa. This amount of coal, when burnt for electricity generation, would produce 64.7 million tonnes of CO2, equivalent to the 2009 CO2 emissions from fuel combustion in Israel.

Galilee (China First) Coal Project: This mine would have a maximum production capacity of 40 mtpa. This amount of coal, when burnt for electricity generation, would produce 85.6 million tonnes of CO2, greater than the 2009 CO2 emissions from fuel combustion in Kuwait.

Kevin’s Corner Coal Mine Project: This mine would have a maximum production capacity of 27 mtpa. This amount of coal, when burnt for electricity generation, would produce 57.8 million tonnes of CO2, greater than the 2009 CO2 emissions from fuel combustion in Finland.

References and reading