Interim Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam gas and Coal Mining

Research Program

Disclaimer

The Interim Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Coal Mining ceased operating in November 2012. The statutory Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development is now in operation.

The Interim Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Coal Mining website is no longer being updated and maintained but remains here as an archive for your information.

As part of its terms of reference, the Interim Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Coal Mining is to oversee research that is designed to tackle critical gaps in scientific understanding about the potential water-related impacts of coal seam gas and/or large coal mining developments to assist in regulatory decisions.

Research findings will be made publicly available and will aim to improve the information base on which future planning and environmental decisions are made by federal, state and territory governments. The principles to guide decisions on research priorities can be viewed in the interim committee's terms of reference .

The interim committee has determined six priority themes for research and knowledge acquisition. These six priority themes are:

  1. Planning and management - to improve the ability to harness the existing knowledge base, hydro-geologic data and improve modelling capabilities.
  2. Aquifer contamination - to target water quality of aquifers, particularly issues around the contamination of aquifers through the introduction of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing and the movement of saline groundwater.
  3. Aquifer integrity - to focus on the physical characteristics of, and impacts on, the surrounding geological formations of aquifers; particularly issues around fracturing and long-wall mining, including subsidence, and maintaining underground and surface hydro-geologic stability across aquifers.
  4. Aquatic health - to investigate issues around environmental integrity, the disruption and contamination of surface ecological systems (rivers, significant water assets, and water-dependent ecosystems) from activities associated with the exploration, development, operation and/or decommissioning of coal seam gas or coal mines.
  5. Health and Industry - to improve the current understandings of risks, impacts and opportunities of using co-produced and mine water for other uses such as agricultural uses, drinking water and irrigation. This theme will also investigate issues around the integrity of wells; including installation, operation, decommissioning; and management of processed water, associated salts and heavy metals, and hydraulic fracturing standards.
  6. Groundwater and surface water processes - focusing on the hydraulic properties of aquifer geology, including groundwater flows, pressures, heights, water quality and fluxes.

The interim committee will also provide advice on ways to improve the consistency and comparability of research on coal seam gas and coal mining developments including possible standards for protecting water resources from these impacts.

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