1.2 Resource assessment for the Central West subregion

Executive summary

Macquarie Marshes, on the north-western end, between Carinda and Warren, NSW, 2009 Credit: Arthur Mostead © Commonwealth of Australia (Murray–Darling Basin Authority)

The coal and coal seam gas resource assessment for the Central West subregion summarises the known coal and coal seam gas resources and developments as at October 2014.

 The information found in this product is used to develop the coal resource development pathway for the subregion. 

Coal and coal seam gas resources

Coals of the Sydney, Gunnedah and Surat geological basins occur within the Central West subregion although coal is only mined from the Sydney Basin. The Ulan Coal is one of the main coal sequences mined in the northern area of the Sydney Basin and has a total thickness of up to 14 metres.

Exploration for coal seam gas in the Gunnedah Basin in the subregion identified the Late Permian coals of the Black Jack Group as a potential resource. However, the coal seams were found to be either severely undersaturated with gas, or to contain high levels of carbon dioxide, making them unattractive for commercial coal seam gas extraction.

Current activity and tenements

As at October 2014 one mining operation was extracting coal in the subregion. The Ulan Mine Complex, located 1.5 kilometres north of Ulan Village in the southern end of the subregion, had two underground mining operations and one open-cut mine. Both were under continual operation.

Approximately 7.2 million tonnes of coal was extracted from the Ulan Mine Complex in 2013. Most of this high-quality coal was sold to the export market with some sold to the domestic market for power generation.

As at October 2014 there was no coal seam gas production for commercial purposes in the subregion.

Proposals and exploration

As at October 2014 there were two planned coal mines and one potential exploration project.

Ulan Coal Mines Limited intended to extend their Ulan Mine Complex operations northwards, for up to 18 years. Because of its proximity to the Northern Sydney Basin Bioregion, the planned extension was considered in the coal and coal seam gas resource assessment for the Hunter subregion.

The second proposed coal mine, the Cobbora Coal Project, was an open-cut mine intended to supply coal to New South Wales power stations in the Upper Hunter Valley and Central Coast, as well as the open market.

As at October 2014 exploration for coal seam gas had predominantly occurred in the eastern part of the subregion, focusing on the geological Gunnedah Basin.

Last updated:
5 January 2018