Chinchilla

Queensland Natural Resources and Mines minister Anthony Lynham announced on April 18 that the government has banned underground coal gasification (UCG) in the state, arguing the environmental risks outweigh the economic benefits.

He said the ban, which would apply immediately as government policy, would be legislated by the end of the year.

Underground coal gasification involves converting coal to a synthesised gas by burning it underground. The syngas is processed on the surface to create products such as aviation fuels and synthetic diesel.

The ABC has revealed that a report prepared for the Queensland government says that hundreds of square kilometres of prime agricultural land are at risk from an experimental plant operated by mining company Linc Energy.

Queensland’s environment department alleges that the Linc plant at Chinchilla is responsible for the toxic chemicals and explosive gases that have caused “irreversible” damage to valuable Darling Downs farming land.

The Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) has laid five criminal charges against multinational mining company Linc Energy for causing irreversible environmental damage around the site of its experimental underground coal gasification (UCG) plant at Chinchilla, on the western Darling Downs.

The charges allege that Linc wilfully and unlawfully caused serious contamination with carbon monoxide, hydrogen, hydrogen sulphide, carcinogenic BTEX and other gases.

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