Cougar Energy’s former underground coal gasification plant at Coolabunia … all signs of the former plant have now been removed above ground in a rehabilitation project by the re-named Moreton Resources


The State Government has moved to ban underground coal gasification in Queensland, sadly it’s 20 years too late.

Linc Energy’s “pilot” UCG plant started operation near Chinchilla in 1999 and, according to a State Government web page (now cached by Google), it tested five different designs over the years (presumably, trying to get it right).

Concerns from local residents over these many, many years were ignored.

Now the State Government has set aside almost $16 million to investigate the operation, charges have been laid, and the company has gone into administration.

Who’s paying for all this? The shareholders of Linc Energy?

Of course not. If you check Linc’s ASX announcements you can see that they’ve been bailing out for months as reports of problems at the site continued to surface.

The people who are paying for all this, and the environmental clean-up – that is, if the land CAN cleaned up – are you and me.

The taxpayers of Australia.

South Burnett residents would remember the controversy over Cougar Energy’s pilot UCG plant at Coolabunia.

We can count our blessings that an issue with a well-pipe during the first test firing caused problems.

That disaster for Cougar Energy shareholders may have saved the rest of us a whole lot of future grief.

April 18, 2016

The State Government has moved to ban underground coal gasification in Queensland because of its environmental impact.

Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham announced the immediate ban on Monday and committed to introducing a legislated ban before the end of the year.

“We have looked at the evidence from the pilot-operation of UCG and we’ve considered the compatibility of the current technologies with Queensland’s environment and our economic needs,” Dr Lynham said.

“The potential risks to Queensland’s environment and our valuable agricultural industries far outweigh any potential economic benefits.

“The ban applies immediately as government policy, and I will introduce legislation to the Parliament by the end of the year to make it law.

“This will give certainty to the resources industry, so they know very clearly where the government stands, and to the community.

“As a government, we support our resources sector for the jobs and economic growth it generates, but UCG activity simply doesn’t stack up for further use in Queensland.”

Environment Minister Steven Miles said the State Government was also taking steps to address issues that had arisen during the UCG pilot projects.

One of the companies involved in the UCG pilot, Linc Energy, was recently committed for trial in the District Court on five counts of wilfully and unlawfully causing serious environmental harm.

Another company involved in a pilot, Cougar Energy, was fined $75,000 in 2013 after pleading guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court to three charges linked to its failed UCG project near Coolabunia.

“The investigation of Linc Energy is the largest and most expensive case ever handled by the State’s environment regulator, the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP),” Mr Miles said.

“The Palaszczuk Government has already provided DEHP $15.8 million in special funding to deal with this important case.”

“In addition, our new chain of responsibility laws will provide new powers to require that contaminated sites must be cleaned up.”

Underground coal gasification involves converting coal to a synthesised gas by burning coal underground. The syngas is then processed.

Carbon Energy is currently decommissioning and rehabilitating its site at Bloodwood Creek near Dalby.

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