Open Cut

Coal Seam Gas, Coal and Agriculture: Water Implications

Open Cut » Environment

Published: October 12Project Number: C21006

Get ReportAuthor: Lauren Kaye, Damian Barrett, Sue Vink, Estelle Roux, Cody-Ellen Murray, Jackson White, Sarah Robbins | Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry, Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland

This document was commissioned by ACARP to improve the understanding of conflict for water resources between the established coal mining and agricultural sectors and the rapidly expanding Coal Seam Gas (CSG) industry.


The external drivers acting on these three sectors and their differential rate of expansion are now determining their development potential and, therefore, conflict for water resources and land access. This competition has elevated tension between local communities, farmers, coal mining and CSG companies. Coupled with the uncertainty regarding the cumulative impacts of multiple CSG projects, conflict for water resources and negative environmental impacts are risks to the coal industry's 'social licence to operate', even if they emanate from another sector.


The aims of this project were to: identify and define water-related issues within the coal mining, CSG and agricultural sectors; explore the regional character of these issues; identify cross-sector risks to the coal mining industry and generate a spatial data product that locates where competition and conflict are most intense between sectors.


The competition for water in catchments will be high when surface and/or groundwater is already highly or over allocated. This has been a desktop study aimed at integrating data from different sources to generate an analysis of the magnitude and spatial location of competition for water resources between the three sectors, while simultaneously understanding the level of water availability and development within a catchment. The analysis has been conducted for the following six 'priority regions' or catchments: the Condamine-Balonne, Fitzroy and Burdekin in QLD and the Namoi, Hunter and Hawkesbury-Nepean in NSW. For each catchment water issues were identified and synthesised to generate a semi-quantitative catchment-level water account estimating current and future water resource exploitation across the sectors.


Development of CSG reserves usually generates large volumes of poor quality CSG associated water as a by-product, which is typically saline and sodic, and presents a significant challenge for sustainable management of water resources. In excess of 90% of future CSG associated water is expected to be generated in QLD, largely in the Condamine-Balonne and Fitzroy catchments, given the scale of QLD's CSG-based LNG export projects and current 2P reserves. Cumulative modelling suggests that an average of 75-125 GL/yr of CSG associated water will be produced over the life of the QLD CSG-LNG projects, peaking between 2020 and 2030, followed by a decline to zero by about 2060.


Largest gains in coal mining raw water consumption are likely to be in the Burdekin, Fitzroy and Namoi associated with increased mining activity in the Galilee, Bowen and Gunnedah Basins, with moderate gains in the Hunter.


Agricultural water consumption is highest in the Burdekin and Condamine-Balonne, followed by the Namoi. Agricultural water consumption is comparatively low in the Hawkesbury-Nepean and the Hunter; with urban and industrial supply comprising a significant component of water use here. Intensively developed agricultural aquifers include the Namoi alluvium, the Condamine alluvium and the lower Burdekin delta alluvium, particularly in years of low surface water availability. For example, groundwater use in the Namoi increases from 49% to 78% in dry years and from 18% to 60% in dry years in the Condamine-Balonne.


With grazing the dominant land use in the Fitzroy and western Condamine-Balonne, significant potential demand exists for CSG associated water for livestock watering in these regions. There may also be significant demand for RO permeate for existing irrigated agriculture in these regions, including high-value cotton cropping in the Condamine-Balonne. The transient availability of RO permeate presents a significant limitation to the long-term development of irrigated agriculture. Although the highest increases in raw water demand in the coal industry are likely to be in the western Burdekin and the northern Fitzroy, beneficial reuse of CSG associated water is limited in these areas by significant transportation costs. Beneficial reuse opportunity exists in the southern Fitzroy where CSG associated water is available from the Glebe Weir associated with Santos-GLNG's Dawson Industrial Supply Scheme and QGC-QCLNG's Woleebee Creek to Glebe Weir Pipeline.


Health and safety, productivity and environment initiatives.

Recently Completed Projects

C27039True Triaxial Strength Of Coal Measure Rocks And Its Impact On Roadway Stability And Coal Burst Assessment

Rocks in the ground are subject to a range of stresses. The stresses...

C3063Underground Vehicle Design Standards And Statutory Implications

The Australian underground diesel vehicle fleet has evolved since di...

C3064Conveyor Belting And Lagging Shear Characteristics - Drive Drum Slip

The primary aim of this project was to investigate the relationsh...


Open Cut

Safety, productivity and the right to operate are priorities for open cut mine research.

Recently Completed Projects

C29021Assessing The Impact Of Consecutive Night Shifts On Night-Time Alertness, Daytime Sleep And Timing Of The Circadian System

In the Australian coal mining industry, most guidelines for managing...

C33037Quantifying Recharge To Groundwater Systems In The NSW Coalfields (Sydney, Gunnedah And Gloucester Basins)

The purpose of this project was to estimate the rate of diffuse rec...

C26029Geological Controls On Fluorine And Phosphorus In Bowen Basin Coals

Increasing global restrictions on fluorine in product coal prompted ...

Open Cut

Coal Preparation

Maximising throughput and yield while minimising costs and emissions.

Recently Completed Projects

C27064Dry Beneficiation Using FGX And X-Ray Sorters

Conventional dry processing methods engage a single beneficiation de...

C26010Multi-Sloped Screening Efficiency With Changing Strokes, Frequencies, Feed Solids And Feed Rates-Pilot Plant Study

Optimising multi-sloped screens is often described as an art and the...

C28059Impact Of Water Quality In Coal Handling And Preparations Plants

The objective of this project was to deliver a concise reference do...

Coal Preparation

Technical Market Support

Market acceptance and emphasising the advantages of Australian coals.

Technical Market Support

Mine Site Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from the production of coal.

Recently Completed Projects

C23052Novel Stone Dust Looping Process For Ventilation Air Methane Abatement

This multi‐phase project is concerned with the mitigation of m...

C27054Optimisation Of A Thermal Flow Reversal Reactor For Ventilation Air Methane Mitigation

Ventilation air methane (VAM) generally accounts for 50-85% of the t...

C28076Selective Absorption Of Methane By Ionic Liquids (SAMIL) - Phase 2 Demonstration In A Packed Bed Reactor

An alternative approach to high temperature oxidation of ventilation...

Mine Site Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

Low Emission Coal Use

Step-change technologies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Recently Completed Projects

C17060BGasification Of Australian Coals

Four Australian coals were trialled in the Siemens 5 MWth pilot scale ga...

C17060AOxyfuel Technology For Carbon Capture And Storage Critical Clean Coal Technology - Interim Support

The status of oxy-fuel technology for first-generation plant is indicate...

C18007Review Of Underground Coal Gasification

This report consists of a broad review of underground coal gasification,...

Low Emission Coal Use

Mining And The Community

The relationship between mines and the local community.

Recently Completed Projects

C16027Assessing Housing And Labour Market Impacts Of Mining Developments In Bowen Basin Communities

The focus of this ACARP-funded project has been to identify a number...

C22029Understanding And Managing Cumulative Impacts Of Coal Mining And Other Land Uses In Regions With Diversified Economies

The coal industry operates in the context of competing land-uses that sh...

C23016Approval And Planning Assessment Of Black Coal Mines In NSW And Qld: A Review Of Economic Assessment Techniques

This reports on issues surrounding economic assessment and analysis ...

Mining And The Community


National Energy Research,Development & Demonstration Council (NERDDC) reports - pre 1992.

Recently Completed Projects

1609-C1609Self Heating of Spoil Piles from Open Cut Coal Mines

Self Heating of Spoil Piles from Open Cut Coal Mines

1301-C1301Stress Control Methods for Optimised Development...

Stress Control Methods for Optimised Development and Extraction Operations

0033-C1356Commissioned Report: Australian Thermal Coals...

Commissioned Report: Australian Thermal Coals - An Industry Handbook