Running since 1992, the Australian Coal Association Research Program is funded by a 5c per tonne levy paid by all Australian black coal producers.
Just over half of the $A13 million pot for next year will be devoted to funding 25 research projects in the underground coal mining sector (see link to table in related stories) while opencut projects were allotted $A2.7 million, coal preparation $A1.7 million and technical market support $A1 million.
Taking into account additional company funding for these projects the estimated total funding amounts to $A27.2 million, with resulting leverage in the order of 2.07 times.
The low emission coal use area was established in 2005 to focus on reducing emissions from coal, primarily in power generation and iron production. Projects in this area and greenhouse gas mitigation each received around $A500,000 for 2006. The latter is addressing issues related to emissions of methane and carbon dioxide during coal production.
Areas of focus include estimating fugitive emissions from individual opencut operations and mitigating methane in mine ventilation air. Research is being conducted into technology that maximises the efficiency of power generation; cleans and conditions gaseous combustion products to extract a stream of high-pressure, high-purity carbon dioxide; and safely and securely stores carbon dioxide in deep geological formations.
ACARP also continues to participate in the Cooperative Research Centre for Coal in Sustainable Development, the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies and the Centre for Low Emission Technology.
The environment remains a big focus with projects now being funded to measure the social impact of starting, operating and closing coal mines. Three projects to be supported this year are aiming to quantify rehabilitation success.
Several safety-related research projects were funded including fatigue, tyre handling and vehicle/personnel interaction.
Work is also being funded to predict the ground conditions ahead of an advancing mining face. One project aims to improve the quality of the images produced by 3D seismic surveys while another will enable geologists to use the full suite of geophysical tools to rate the quality of the mine roof. CSIRO is also developing technology to capture seismic noise from a shearer to image the roof ahead of it being mined.
The longwall automation project, which commenced in 2001, was extended and will aim to consolidate and advance the gains made to date.