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Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2001-2004

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP



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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
The Hon Ian Macfarlane, MP
Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources

29 June 2004

BHP Billiton's Illawarra Coal cuts greenhouse gas emissions

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp and Minister for Industry, Tourism, and Resources, Mr Ian Macfarlane today commended BHP Billiton Illawarra Coal on its announcement of a major project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Australian Government is contributing up to A$6 million through its Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program.

BHP Billiton will build a $13 million electricity plant near Appin, in NSW, that burns waste coal mine gas that would otherwise be vented into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. The West Cliff Ventilation Air Methane Project (WestVAMP) will construct and operate the plant utilising 20 per cent of West Cliff's available mine ventilation air. The outcome of the project will be a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of up to 200 000 tonnes CO2-e per year.

WestVAMP will use VOCSIDIZER™ technology, which converts low concentration methane to carbon dioxide and water vapour through a flameless combustion process. High efficiency heat exchangers will recover large levels of thermal energy to produce steam. This steam will be used to drive a conventional turbine to produce 6 MW of electricity that will be used by the West Cliff Colliery.

"This commitment by BHP Billiton Illawarra Coal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from mine methane gas is a prime example of industry and the Australian Government working together to develop Australia's resources in an environmentally sustainable way," Dr Kemp said

"The new initiatives announced in the Federal Budget and in the Securing Australia's Energy Future statement build on this partnership. The Government's Energy White Paper represents a comprehensive and balanced response to Australia's future energy needs in terms of security of supply, resource development and environmental sustainability."

Mr Macfarlane said the Australian Government had articulated a pathway for moving the energy sector to a low-emissions future and was providing substantial incentives (totaling more than $700 million) to motivate action in that direction.

"This includes developing low emissions technologies across the entire spectrum of energy sources and fuels (both traditional and emerging).

"The Australian Government is casting a wide net to identify large-scale, cost-effective and sustained abatement from all sectors of Australia's economy.

"I congratulate BHP Billiton Illawarra Coal for investing in technology that can help reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions - a technology that can be used in other mines and industry sectors across Australia."

Dr Kemp said the Australian Government was continuing to take action to reduce greenhouse emissions, but it would do so in a smart way - in a way that did not threaten our energy advantage and national prosperity.

Commonwealth of Australia