Developing a coal resource development pathway

Executive summary

This M04 Developing a coal resource development pathway submethodology describes the process for developing the coal resource development pathway in bioregional assessments (BA). It provides detail of the information required in the coal resource development pathway, including definition of the baseline against which future development is measured and how to determine what the most likely pathway is. The importance of successfully engaging with relevant groups in industry (e.g. coal and coal seam gas (CSG) development companies), government and regional communities is emphasised, so that the coal resource development pathway can be suitably tested and validated. This coal resource development pathway submethodology is a standalone document, but it is recommended that it be read in consultation with the BA methodology (Barrett et al., 2013). It should be used by individual Assessment teams involved in researching, compiling and writing companion products 1.2 (about coal and CSG resource assessment) and 2.3 (about conceptual modelling) for each bioregion or subregion in the BA Programme.

Developing the coal resource development pathway is a two-stage process that occurs across the contextual information and model-data analysis stages of a bioregional assessment. The initial stage of work for each bioregion or subregion involves compiling relevant data and information about the geology, coal resources, current mines and CSG production facilities, and the potential coal resource developments (including both new operations and expansions to existing sites). This provides the requisite contextual information to later assess and determine the coal resource development pathway and these details are reported in each coal and CSG resource assessment (companion product 1.2).

Following the coal and coal seam gas resource assessment, critical data analysis and evaluation of the potential developments are needed to determine the combination of individual projects that will define the coal resource development pathway in each bioregion or subregion. All coal and CSG resource projects that are within the environmental impact statement (EIS) assessment process, or are expected to submit EIS documentation within two years, will be included in the coal resource development pathway. Likewise, most projects with a defined economically demonstrated resource (EDR) will also be part of the coal resource development pathway. Other less-advanced resource development proposals, such as those with only current subeconomic or inferred resources, may also be incorporated in the coal resource development pathway if a strong case (based on currently available data and information) can be mounted by respective Assessment teams.

The coal resource development pathway is an important part of each BA and largely determines the resource developments that will be incorporated as part of later numerical modelling simulations to assess the impacts of future development on water-dependent assets. However, this is also dependent on the availability of suitable fit-for-purpose data on the likely development characteristics and processes. Other important components of the coal resource development pathway process outlined in this submethodology include specifying the development baseline, consideration of development time frames, and clarification of the type of resource operations that do not form part of BAs.


Barrett DJ, Couch CA, Metcalfe DJ, Lytton L, Adhikary DP and Schmidt RK (2013) Methodology for bioregional assessments of the impacts of coal seam gas and coal mining development on water resources. A report prepared for the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development through the Department of the Environment. Department of the Environment, Australia. Viewed 23 October 2014.

Last updated:
11 April 2016