Brown Coal - Victoria, Australia: A principal brown coal province
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Victoria, Rediscover the Potential
Victoria, Australia offers investors the opportunity to develop low-cost brown coal projects from one of the world’s largest, high-quality coal resources, located close to potential carbon capture and storage sites.
With an abundance of brown coal occurring in thick seams close to the earth’s surface, Victoria is home to one of the largest and lowest cost energy sources in the world.
More recently, rising global energy prices and low emissions coal technology developments have created new, non-power related investment opportunities for the Victorian brown coal industry.
Proven resource potential
The 430 billion tonnes of brown coal located in Victoria represents a significant proportion of the world’s brown coal endowment.
More than 80 per cent of Victoria’s resource is located in the Gippsland Basin (South East Victoria), with seams in the Latrobe Valley region containing an estimated measured resource of 65 billion tonnes. Approximately half of this has been identified as ‘potentially economic’, of this 13 billion tonnes are yet to be allocated to prospective developers by the Victorian Government.
|Victorian brown coal resources|
|Total estimated in situ brown coal in Victoria||430 billion tonnes|
|Measured brown coal in the Latrobe Valley||65 billion tonnes|
|Potentially economic brown coal in the Latrobe Valley||33 billion tonnes|
Found near the surface in thick seams, the resource lends itself to low-cost, large-scale open-cut mining. Brown coal seams in the Latrobe Valley are up to 100 metres thick, with multiple seams often giving virtually continuous brown coal thickness of up to 230 metres. Seams are typically located under only 10-20 meters of overburden.
Favourable coal to overburden ratios (between 0.5:1 and 5:1) in the Latrobe Valley area of the Gippsland Basin indicate a high tonnage of coal for every cubic metre of non-coal material mined. This combined with the easy digging characteristics of the coal make it some of the lowest-cost coal in the world.
Beyond the Gippsland Basin, other brown coal deposits can be found in the Otway Basin (mainly within the Bacchus Marsh, Altona and the Anglesea coalfields) and across the Murray Basin1. Access to all sites is subject to the appropriate exploration and mining licences.
An overview of Victorian coal resources
Traralgon South - reclaimed area. Photo courtesy of Powerworks
12006 Coal resources inventory, GHD Pty Ltd.
Brown coal basics
Victoria’s brown coal is typically low in ash, sulphur, heavy metals and nitrogen, making it very low in impurities by world standards. However, its high moisture content - which ranges from 48-70 per cent reduces its effective energy content (average 8.6 MJ/kg on a net wet basis or 26.6 MJ/kg on a gross dry basis).
|Typical Characteristics of Victorian Brown Coal|
|Energy value (net wet)||5.8 to 11.5 MJ/kg|
|Energy value (gross dry)||25 to 29 MJ/kg|
|Overburden thickness||10 to 20 metres|
|Strip ratio (coal: overburden)||0.5:1 to 5:1|
|Water||48 – 70%|
|Carbon||65 – 70%|
|Oxygen||25 – 30%|
|Hydrogen||4 – 5.5%|
Future uses for coal
The high water content and reactivity of Gippsland brown coal has to date precluded it from coal export. However, with the development of new drying, gasification and liquefaction technologies, brown coal may have the potential for direct export. The coal could be used as feedstock for a variety of exportable commodities (including diesel, fertilisers and methanol – see diagram below).
Opportunities for Victorian brown coal
|Fischer Tropsch Liquids||
|Synthesis gas from brown coal||
|Methanol||→ Fuel Cells
→ Chemicals(MTBE, Acetic Acid,
→ Diesel, Transport Fuel
→ Acrylic Acid/Acrylates
|→ Fertilisers (Urea)|
Low rank coal comparative
Source: Allardice Consulting Ltd
Victorian coal represents a significant opportunity to supply energy and other products to the expanding markets of China and India.
In addition, recent exploration activity also suggests opportunities for coal seam gas (methane) and possibly even underground coal gasification industries in Victoria.
Key reasons to invest in Victoria:
DPI offers advice and information to assist investors
DPI provides the following services to potential investors in coal:
- Free access to DPI’s knowledge, advice and expertise in relation to approvals processes and the business environment
- A comprehensive inventory of Victorian coal resources, including quantity and quality data, and a threedimensional-model of the Latrobe Valley’s coalfields. Mapped Victorian coal data is accessible through GeoVic’s Explore Victoria Online tool: www.dpi.vic.gov.au
- Coal inventory reports outlining all available coal data www.dpi.vic.gov.au
For further information contact:
Director, Business Development and Technology
T: +61 3 9658 4405
F: +61 3 9658 4499
Development Manager, Coal
T: +61 3 9658 4739
F: +61 3 9658 4499
DPI would like to thank Loy Yang Power for facilitating photography.