Twenty-eight mineral exploration licenses (as at 19 May 2015) in the Gippsland Basin bioregion have selected brown coal, black coal and/or coal seam gas (CSG) as their target mineral for exploration (Figure 9). Under the same exploration licence, a company may also nominate other minerals, such as mineral sands. CSG activities in Victoria are governed by Victoria’s Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (MRSDA), however shale and tight gas are regulated under Victoria’s Petroleum Act 1998 (Petroleum Act). Sixteen of the 28 licences have selected CSG as one of their target commodities. Table 9 lists the owners and status of the licences shown in Figure 9. The majority of CSG activity carried out to date is limited to desktop studies, although there has been some drilling (e.g. Gastar Exploration Ltd, 2005).
Ignite Energy Resources Limited (IER) currently holds the largest mining exploration licence (EL) in the Gippsland Basin bioregion (EL 4416), which covers an area of 3837 km2 (Figure 9). This licence includes the recognised coalfields of Longford, Boodyarn, Stradbroke, Greenmount, Alberton East and Gelliondale. IER's operations are divided into three subsidiaries: Ignite Resources, Gippsland Gas and Licella. Licella has developed a modified Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor (Cat-HTR) technology that rapidly converts wet biomass (plant material) into 'BioCrude' oil and high-value bio-chemicals. IER currently has plans to exploit the relatively shallow brown coal at Gelliondale using conventional brown coal mining and upgrade with its Cat-HTR process. The 6.2 billion tonne (Bt) Gelliondale deposit consists of thick, shallow seams (less than 200 m depth and 100 m overburden) of lignite with low impurities – 6.2% ash and 0.9% sulfur .
An independent report by MHA Petroleum Consultants, commissioned by Ignite Energy Resources, has estimated that EL 4416 hosts a 3.7 trillion cubic feet (TCF) natural gas contingent resource (2C – best estimate of a contingent resource) . However, it is currently unclear how this resource estimate was calculated as no gas content is known to have been measured.
The other advanced coal resource exploration/appraisal project in the Gippsland Basin bioregion is in EL 5173 (Figure 9), 8 km south-west of Longford. Verso Energy Pty Ltd plan to use microbial coal conversion (MCC), targeting the Traralgon seams as part of its Coolung pilot project , which sits within the Coolungoolun coalfield.
EL = exploration licence
Table 9 Current coal exploration licences in the Gippsland Basin bioregion
EL = exploration licence, CSG = coal seam gas
Product Finalisation date
- 1.2.1 Available coal and coal seam gas resources
- 1.2.2 Current activity and tenements
- 1.2.3 Proposals and exploration
- 1.2.4 Catalogue of potential resource developments
- Contributors from the Government of Victoria
- Contributors to the Technical Programme
- About this technical product