1.2 Resource assessment for the Gippsland Basin bioregion

Executive summary

Lake Victoria, Victoria, 2013  Credit: Hashim Carey, # Photography

The coal and coal seam gas resource assessment for the Gippsland Basin bioregion summarises the known coal and coal seam gas resources and developments in June 2016.

The information found in this product was used to develop the coal resource development pathway.

Coal and coal seam gas resources

The Gippsland Basin in south-eastern Australia is one of the world’s major coal- and petroleum-bearing basins. It contains the largest brown coal resources in Australia. The basin covers an area of approximately 46,000 square kilometres, 70% of which is located offshore beneath the waters of the Bass Strait.

The onshore margins of the basin contain an estimated 100 billion tonnes of brown coal. Under the Australian classification system, it is estimated that Australia holds approximately 22.6% of the world's economically viable brown coal, about 99% of which is in Victoria.  

The Gippsland Basin also contains significant black coal resources of which approximately 22 million tonnes were mined, mostly in the Wonthaggi area between 1909 and 1968. A further 9.5 million tonnes remains underground, although this is currently regarded as uneconomic to mine.

As of February 2016, there has been no coal seam gas production in the Gippsland Basin bioregion. There has been limited coal seam gas exploration and much remains unknown about the coal seam gas resources in the Gippsland Basin.

Current activities and tenements

As of May 2015, 28 mineral exploration licences in the Gippsland Basin bioregion have selected brown coal, black coal and/or coal seam gas as their target mineral for exploration. Most coal information about seam gas comes from desktop studies.

In February 2016 there were three large coal mines operating in the Gippsland Basin—Yallourn, Hazelwood and Loy Yang—all located in the Latrobe Valley. Collectively these mines provide approximately 59 million tonnes of brown coal annually for power generation.

Coal seam gas resources have been reported in the Gippsland Basin bioregion, for example, within the Traralgon Formation of the Latrobe Group. However the development potential of these resources is uncertain.

Proposals and exploration

In February 2016 there were four potential brown coal developments in the Gippsland Basin bioregion. They include development plans for the continued expansion of the three existing coal mines, extending the life of these mines out until 2030s. In addition, there are preliminary plans to explore the relatively shallow brown coal deposit at Gelliondale.

Some coal seam gas exploration occurred in the Gippsland Basin bioregion before August 2012, when the Victorian Government placed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and new coal seam gas licences in Victoria. Drilling and testing for gas is not allowed under the moratorium.

Last updated:
8 January 2018
Thumbnail of the Gippsland bioregion