All coal mining, whether deep-shaft or open-cut, is responsible for releasing significant quantities of carbon into the atmosphere. The common belief is that the major part of this emission comes from power-station chimney stacks. In fact it occurs long before the coal is burnt. Coal seams are rich sources of methane gas (CH4), especially where water is present, and some Australian coals seams are so waterlogged they hardly qualify as ‘solid fuel’. Consequently, some seams yield so much methane that they cannot be mined without first extracting some of the gas.
I took this picture during flooding at the Hebe Coal Mine near Collie in south-western WA, in 1965. The mine could not be re-opened.
Download the full article