Galilee to provide China with cleaner coal

HIGH rank, low ash coal from Queensland’s Galilee Basin will soon be available to supplement China’s domestic production cap of 3.9 billion tonnes per annum, providing the energy-hungry country with extra environmental benefits, according to combustion expert Lindsay Juniper.
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Drilling at Waratah Coal's Galilee Basin Project, near Emerald in Queensland.

Lou Caruana

In a recent paper, he said the Galilee Basin’s emerging producers – which include Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal and Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Coal – would be in the box seat to continue contributing to China’s energy needs for decades to come with a cleaner, more cost-effective alternative to high ash coals.

Coal quality impacts on power station boiler efficiency so, as quality improves, less coal is needed to be mined, less coal needs to be transported to exporting ports, less coal needs to be transported from destination ports to the power stations and less coal needs to be burnt.

All of these contribute to a better environmental outcome, according to Juniper.

Options for supplementing coal production beyond 2015 by switching to other technologies are not optimal as these are not all capable of consistently providing fuel for base load power generation.

Gas supply is limited and hydropower plants and other renewable sources are susceptible to external forces, such as the availability of rainfall, wind and sunshine.

Additionally nuclear power has been stigmatised by the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Pricing and, more importantly, valuing coals is no longer a simple process of adjusting the price in accordance with the energy content.

Price and value are now more accurately calculated by considering the impact the coal has on all of the purchase, transportation and utilisation costs involved in producing a unit of electricity.

This is achieved by measuring the coal’s value-in-use, according to Juniper.

This calculates the impact of coal properties on the technical performance of the coal and their influence on costs within the power station including costs that relate to mitigation of any environmental impacts.