The Queensland (Australia) Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Kate Jones announced that the Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) trial plant near Kingaroy will not be allowed to recommence. Minister Jones said Cougar Energy could not demonstrate to the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) and the independent Scientific Expert Panel that it could recommence its operations without an unacceptable risk of causing environmental harm.
In July 2010, DERM ordered Cougar Energy to keep Kingaroy UCG pilot plant closed until the Government was assured that groundwater resources were protected. (Earlier post.)
DERM Director General, John Bradley, said the agency was not satisfied with two of the three reports the company was directed to provide after contaminants resulting from the underground gasification process were detected in groundwater monitoring bores on the Cougar site. Minister Jones today said that the independent scientific panel report into the Cougar Energy operations at Kingaroy supports the department’s decision to close down the trial at the Kingaroy site.
An interim report by the same Expert Panel on the Linc Energy pilot at Chincilla recommends that it continue as planned.
In February 2009 the Queensland Government released its policy on Underground Coal Gasification (UCG), which makes provision for three UCG pilot projects to demonstrate the technical, environmental and commercial viability of the UCG technology. The three pilot projects are Carbon Energy at Bloodwood Creek, near Dalby; Cougar Energy near Kingaroy; and Linc Energy near Chinchilla. The department is still considering matters in relation to the Carbon Energy pilot project.