Mapping coal�s future

INDUSTRY will have a chance to have its say on the way forward for US coal research and development and resource assessments after the National Academies of Science (NAS) last week called for public comment on its latest study.

Angie Tomlinson

The Coal Research, Technology and Resource Assessments to Inform Energy Policy study is now open for committee membership.

The 24-month study began in July this year with the first group meeting scheduled for January 18, 2006.

The study will broadly examine coal resource assessments, technologies, and R&D activities in the US to make a roadmap of future needs. The results of the review should help define and construct a national strategy for coal R&D and resource assessments.

The study will look at coal use projections for the next 25 years, assessing the potential of coal; issues and challenges, especially environmental, facing coal; and review the coal reserve assessments and future coal imports and exports.

On the R&D front the study will look at what is currently being carried out on a national and international level and investigate how technology developments in other fields can be applied to the coal sector. It will also review how technologies are being transferred to coal mine operators and other users, recognising differences among companies.

The study will prioritise R&D needs – including exploration, discovery, reserve assessment, extraction, coal preparation, delivery to market, waste disposal, reclamation, health and safety, community impact, environmental practices, education and training, and productivity.

It will also examine the agencies conducting coal research and will look at the level of funding that is currently being spent throughout the coal life cycle.

Lastly the study will examine options for supporting and implementing a broad-based coal R&D program, including approximate costs, and the relative roles and commitments of the public and private sectors, at present and into the future.

The study’s provisional committee is chaired by Corale Brierley, a technical and business consultant to the mining and chemical industries, formerly chief of environmental process development for Newmont Mining Corp.

Also on the 13-member panel is Dr Francis Burke, vice-president of research and development for Consol Energy, and mining consultant Jean-Michel Rendu. Other members are drawn from environmental groups, businesses, government organisations and academic institutions.

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