Leichardt Resources Pty Ltd has lodged an application for a permit to
explore for coal and coal seam gas (CSG, also know as coal bed methane,
or CBM) for a substantial area of South Gippsland. It covers private
land and road and road reserves.
The community has until June 17 to lodge objections with the Department of Primary Industries.
A decision will then be made by the state government.
Please take action – and send this alert to your friends
Any person may object to a licence being granted according to Section 24, Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990.
A suggested letter is given below – please feel free to modify it, add
your name and address, and send by June 27 at the latest.
Please send your submission to:
Manager Earth Resources Tenements
Department of Primary Industries
GPO Box 4440 Melbourne VIC 3001
Gippsland Tenement Support Officer
Department of Primary Industries
Please also send a copy to the following MPs:
Hon Michael O'Brien Minister for Energy and Resources
Level 22, 1 Spring Street Melbourne VIC 3002
Tel: 9938 5963
Hon Ted Baillieu Premier
1 Treasury Place Melbourne VIC 3002
Tel: 9651 5000
Hon Peter Ryan Deputy Premier Minister for Regional and Rural Development
Level 3, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne VIC 3002
Tel: 9651 1044 Fax: 5144 7086
Hon Peter Walsh Minister for Agriculture and Food Security
Level 20, 1 Spring Street Melbourne VIC 3002
Tel: 9938 5954
Hon Ken Smith, Member for Bass
26 McBride Ave Wonthaggi VIC 3995
Cape Patterson Community Exchange has set up a CSG Forum - an informal
forum of those concerned about the prospect of coal seam gas and other
mining activities in the Bass Coast region. It is intended to share
information and enable timely notification of 'breaking news'.
You can find the link and resources here.
If you are a local to the Bass Coast, you may want to attend one of the
information sessions being planned to help people write objections.
FoE Melbourne website: http://www.melbourne.foe.org.au/?q=node/1104
Earth Resources Tenements,
Department of Primary Industries
Dear Mr Boothroyd,
I write to register my objection to the following application for an
Exploration License (EL) that has been put forward by Leichardt
Resources Pty Ltd.
Application Number: EL 5416.
I am very concerned by this proposal to explore for coal bed methane
(coal seam gas, or CSG), and black or brown coal. Given the very limited
details that are available on the DPI website – and lack of information
from the proponent - I am assuming that any exploration that then leads
to production of CSG will involve the use of hydraulic fracturing
I note that under section 2A of the Act the Minister is obliged to
consider the environmental consequences of a decision regarding
applications. The principles of sustainable development, which are
outlined in the Act (available here:
set out a compelling case for taking a precautionary approach to
possible future impacts of mining and drilling operations. I firmly
believe there will be major impacts from any CSG or coal operations.
I object to the application on the following grounds.
COAL BED METHANE (COAL SEAM GAS)
The Public Notice pertaining to these applications says that the company
intends to look for CBM on Private land and road and road reserves. I
understand this to mean that the company will drill exploratory holes to
take samples. If the environmental costs of a mining operation will be
substantial – as I believe they will be in the case of both CSG and coal
mining – then it would be negligent to approve the initial exploration
permit. If a permit is granted and the proposal proceeds through to a
works approval phase (ie, a mining license is issued), then the
following problems can be expected to arise.
Ground water impacts
Test wells would be drilled into the coal seam. These initial wells are
unlikely to produce much gas until the coal seam has been stimulated by
hydraulic fracturing (fracking or fraccing). This is achieved by pumping
a fracturing fluid into the coal seam at pressures sufficient to crack
open the rock. This enables the gas to flow to the well more easily.
Gas companies are very reluctant to reveal what they use in the fracking
process and yet continually imply they are quite safe. Fracturing
fluids are primarily water but contain other chemicals, often including
acids, solvents, surfactants, biocides, and hydrocarbons. Sand is often
added as a propping agent to hold the fractures open and allow the gas
to flow freely to the well bore. Some of this toxic fracturing fluid,
known as ‘flowback water', resurfaces but much may remain underground.
Concerns about CSG operations:
· Extracting coal seam gas (CSG) requires the removal of large
volumes of generally saline "associated water" from the coal seam.
· The extraction of associated water can lower water levels in adjoining aquifers.
· In many areas, we do not fully understand the degree of
connectivity between different aquifers, nor the extent to which
groundwater sources are connected to surface waters. In some places
groundwater provides the base-flow to creeks and rivers; in others,
creeks recharge groundwater aquifers.
· Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) causes micro-seismic events or
little earthquakes intended to open up pathways for fluids or gases to
flow. If these fractures intercept fissures or faults, the fracking
fluids, contaminated water or gas can move into other geologic layers,
contaminating the groundwater.
Salt and other contaminants
· Coal seam gas (CSG) water (also known as ‘associated', ‘produced'
or ‘formation' water) is regarded as a waste by-product. Large volumes
must be removed from coal seams to allow gas to flow.
· CSG water is generally high in sodium and contains many other
contaminants. In the case of Queensland, where the industry is far more
advanced in its development than Victoria, each megalitre (one million
litres) of associated water generally brings up 5 - 8 tonnes of salt
previously stored safely underground.
· CSG water may also contain heavy metals, carcinogens such as
benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, and radioactive chemicals
that are naturally present in coal seams. Some of these highly toxic
substances bio-accumulate - that is, they are concentrated as they move
up the food chain.
The production and burning of CSG for energy may be little or no better in terms of greenhouse pollution than coal.
· Coal seam gas (CSG) is a fossil fuel - a dirty energy source that adds to greenhouse pollution.
· The gas industry claims gas-fired power stations produce 70% less
CO2 than existing coal-fired power stations. This figure only refers to
the emissions released when the gas is burnt. It does not include the
emissions involved in producing the gas - the drilling, fracking,
compressing, pumping, liquefying and transporting the gas.
· Liquefying natural gas consumes at least 20% of its energy value and cancels almost 30% of its "clean" character.
· Monitoring of methane leakage in the oil and gas industry is
limited, but conservative estimates suggest that during the life cycle
of an average coal seam gas well, 3.6 - 7.9% of total production is
emitted to the atmosphere as methane. This is at least 30% and perhaps
more than twice as great as the life cycle methane emissions for
conventional (natural) gas which range from 1.7 - 6%.
CSG may be cleaner than coal, but it is not clean, nor green.
Victoria currently relies heavily on coal to meet our energy needs.
With what we know about climate change, we know that the world must
transition rapidly to a low carbon future. This will mean that we must
adopt renewable energy sources to meet our energy needs.
Victoria is blessed with a range of renewable and low emissions energy
options, including wind and solar, geothermal and wave energy.
The time for further investment in coal is long over. New coal
operations in South Gippsland will have a massive negative impact on
local people, local economies, landscapes and waterways. The local
Council (Bass Coast) and Local State MP Ken Smith have acknowledged as
It would add huge greenhouse emissions to the atmosphere. Because coal
mining is a single-use option for land where it occurs, this would
threaten on-going production in what is a significant farming region.
Impacts on food production
I believe we need to see this proposal in the context of what is
happening across much of eastern Australia. Many thousands of proposals
to explore for or produce CSG/ CBM is already having negative impacts on
agricultural producing areas such as the Darling Downs in Queensland.
Here in Victoria, there are currently 24 applications by various
companies who are interested in CSG and/or coal. These occur across the
‘coal belt’ of southern Victoria, much of which is our prime
We have been fortunate enough to have good rains over the past year and a
half. However, Victoria has recently suffered from more than a decade
of drought, which put significant pressure on natural landscapes, ground
and surface water, and agricultural producers. If we go into another
drought cycle, farmers in the Gippsland area will become even more
reliant on bore water.
I do not believe it is acceptable to be putting prime agricultural
country at risk from CSG or coal operations when we know about the
significant negative impacts associated with this industry in
I urge the Minister to act to protect key food producing regions by
opposing this particular EL and, more broadly, to put a moratorium in
place on any new coal and CSG proposals until there has been a thorough
assessment of the likely impacts on our food production and long term
food security. Such an assessment must also include likely impacts on
rural communities, biodiversity and water, and contribution to our
state’s greenhouse pollution.
Impacts on the local economy
I fully concur with the Bass Coast Shire on this issue, which has made the following statement:
"The continuing preservation, protection, and promotion of existing
agricultural enterprises, environmental values, and tourism
opportunities within Bass Coast Shire is essential to the economic and
social wellbeing of the shire, and of the South Gippsland region
Bass Coast Shire Council is totally opposed to new mining of coal, and
to gas extraction associated with coal (unconventional gas), within the
http://www.basscoast.vic.gov.au/getmedia/1e380a4f-4413-4e18-bd4a-9078c7e... (page 130)
For the reasons outlined above, I urge you to reject the proposal for this exploration permit.