1.2 Resource assessment for the Hunter subregion

Executive summary

Google Earth image of the Hunter River west of Muswellbrook

The coal and coal seam gas resource assessment for the Hunter subregion summarises the known coal and coal seam gas resources and developments as at November 2015.

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

Coal and coal seam gas resources

Coal and coal seam gas resources in the Hunter subregion are contained within the Hunter, Newcastle and Western coalfields of the geological Sydney Basin.

The major economic coal seams mined in the Hunter Coalfield are part of the Greta and the Wittingham coal measures, and in the Newcastle Coalfield the Greta, Tomago and the Newcastle coal measures contain extensive resources. Most of the coal produced from the Western Coalfield is contained in three main economic units within the Illawarra Coal Measures: the Lithgow Coal, Ulan Coal and the Katoomba Coal members.

Studies have suggested that the northern, western and southern parts of the Sydney Basin contain carbon dioxide–rich gases at depth. The Hunter Coalfield has been well studied for coal seam gas resources, while there have been limited studies in the Newcastle and Western coalfields.

Current activity and tenements

Both open cut and underground mining are undertaken across the subregion, although around the coastal lakes, operations are underground.

As at May 2015 there were 25 operating coal mines, including seven complexes in the Hunter subregion. The seven complexes are: Bulga, Donaldson, Hunter Valley Operations, Mount Arthur, Mount Owen, Ravensworth and Ulan.

Six mines were in care and maintenance or had recently closed.

No coal seam gas is currently produced in the Hunter subregion, although a number of wells have been drilled for exploration.

Proposals and exploration

As at November 2015 there were 27 proposals to extend or expand existing operations and 15 proposals to initiate new mines. New coal mines included developments such as the Bylong Coal Project, in the Upper Bylong Valley 95 kilometres from Mudgee.

As at November 2015 coal seam gas activities had been limited to exploration studies in the Hunter subregion.

Last updated:
18 January 2019
Thumbnail of the Hunter subregion