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Project Summary

Leigh Creek Energy has proposed to construct and operate an in-situ gasification demonstration plant at Leigh Creek, within the old mine site. This proposed demonstration plant will involve the establishment of a single gasifier chamber and associated above-ground infrastructure to produce synthesis gas (commonly referred to as syngas) for a short period of time (approximately 2-3 months), to test the syngas composition and process performance to enable consideration of potential commerciality.

For further information on the ISG process please see our Frequently Asked Questions Brochure on Underground Coal Gasification.

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Statement of Environmental Objectives and Environmental Impact Report

All regulated activities conducted under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 (PGE Act) must have an approved Statement of Environmental Objectives in place with which they comply, prepared on the basis of an Environmental Impact Report. Leigh Creek Energy has prepared an Environmental Impact Report and Draft Statement of Environmental Objectives in relation to its proposed In-situ gasification (otherwise known as UCG) project for assessment by the Energy Resources Division, in close consultation with relevant co-regulatory agencies.

Environmental Impact Report - Leigh Creek Energy, ISG Demonstration Plant, April 2018 Statement of Environmental Objectives - Leigh Creek Energy, ISG Demonstration Plant, April 2018
 
Download the Environmental Impact Report (PDF 17.1MB) Download the Statement of Environmental Objectives (PDF 1.52MB)

For further information on the approvals process, including relevant stages and consultation requirements, please see Activity Approval Process.

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Consultation

If an activity is deemed by the Energy Resources Division in consultation with relevant co-regulatory agencies, to be of Medium Impact according to the criteria for classifying the level of environmental impact of regulated activities then public comment will be sought on the associated Environmental Impact Report and draft Statement of Environmental Objectives.

The Energy Resources Division on the 16 January 2018 invited public comment on the proposed Leigh Creek Energy In-situ gasification Environmental Impact Report and draft Statement of Environmental Objectives. As part of this process the Energy Resources Division also consulted with targeted stakeholders through email correspondence, presentations to the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association Native Title Body (ATLA) and the Northern Flinders NRM group and a community drop in session at Copley.

This formal public consultation period closed on the 28 February 2018.

Submissions have now closed

A number of issues were raised by internal government and the wider public in a total of 102 submissions, including:

  • potential contamination of ground water and impacts to local air quality;
  • matters relating to Aboriginal heritage in the Leigh Creek Area; and
  • concerns regarding the Linc Energy UCG project at Chinchilla in Queensland and the alleged failure to comply with the Queensland Environmental Protection Act 1994.

All submissions received during this process were provided to Leigh Creek Energy to adequately address to the Energy Resource Division’s, and its co-regulators, satisfaction. Leigh Creek Energy’s responses to these submissions can be found within Section 7.4 and Appendix E and F of their EIR document.

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Approvals

All prospective operators, prior to any on-ground activities, must adhere to the three stage approvals process under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000, which is outlined in the Guide to the licensing and approvals process for exploration, retention and production activities flowchart.

Stage 1 - Licensing - PEL 650 granted in November 2014     APPROVAL GRANTED
Stage 2 - SEO Approval - Gazetted on 12 April 2018     APPROVAL GRANTED
Stage 3 - Activity Approval - Pending Completion of Assessment Phases



The Activity Notification Approvals process (Stage 3) has now commenced, following approval of the Leigh Creek Energy Statement of Environmental Objectives and associated Environmental Impact Report (Stage 2) on 12 April 2018.

The Licence Approval process (Stage 1) grants exclusive rights to an area to explore for resources but does not grant rights to undertake on-ground activities.

Leigh Creek Energy was granted its exploration licence, Petroleum Exploration Licence 650, in November 2014.

Further information on the Licensing process is available on the License Applications page.

The Minister for Energy and Mining on 12 April 2018 approved the Leigh Creek Energy Statement of Environmental Objectives in accordance with Part 12 of the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000. The Energy Resource Division has developed an assessment summary report to summarise the main findings in relation to the potential issues and environmental risks associated with the Leigh Creek Energy Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) trial proposal and how they will be managed. The source of this information is from that detailed in the submitted Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and from additional information acquired by the Energy Resource Division as the lead regulator of this project. All this information along with public submissions and advice from other co-regulatory agencies and independent geo-mechanics and UCG experts was utilised to inform the approval process for the Statement of Environmental Objectives under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 for this proposal.

Whilst approval of the SEO is a significant step within the approvals process, this still does not provide rights to Leigh Creek Energy to begin on-ground works. To do this, Leigh Creek Energy will need to proceed to the third and final approval stage to obtain approval to commence on ground activities. This entails submission to Energy Resource Division for evaluation and approval of all technical and engineering designs relating to this activity to ensure the design and intended construction and monitoring of all surface facilities, pipelines, underground gasification chamber and wells are in accordance with recognised industry standards and fit for the purpose for achieving the requirements of the final approved SEO objectives and conditions. This stage 3 approval process will also include, evaluation and approval of the licensee’s Environmental, Health and Safety Management Systems, monitoring plans, shut down and decommissioning plans, environmental assessments, environmental management plans, rehabilitation plans, cultural heritage assessments and emergency response procedures that are critical to the demonstrable achievement of the SEO objectives. Further information on Stage 3 approvals are provided within the assessment summary report.

For a copy of the assessment summary report please see below:

Department of the Premier and Cabinet's Assessment of Leigh Creek Energy UCG Trial Proposal

Download the Department of the Premier and Cabinet's Assessment of Leigh Creek Energy UCG Trial Proposal. (PDF 1.9 MB)


For further information on the approvals process, including relevant stages and consultation requirements, please see Activity Approval Process.

This approval process will be undertaken in three phases.

Each phase for approval, along with a respective decision or indicative assessment progress and date, are provided in the table below.

It is important to note that, where relevant, subsequent phases of approval are subject to the successful execution of the preceding phase of approved activities.

Phases for Approval Decision ReachedDate
First Phase   
Facility Construction Approved 14 May 2018
Drilling of UCG Process and Monitoring Wells Approved 29 May 2018
Second Phase   
Facility Testing Approved 19 June 2018
Third Phase   
Gasifier Commissioning and Operation Pending Completion of Assessment TBA

Independent Review

The Energy Resources Division engaged Dr Gary Love to review the physical aspects of the subsurface at the LCK site that are primary factors in containment of the UCG process, and to provide an expert statement on the suitability of this site for the purpose of UCG. Dr Love is a recognised Australian expert in the field of UCG who amongst other credentials detailed in his expert statement report he has appraised numerous potential sites for UCG both in Australia and internationally. Since 2014, he has acted as a fact witness and subject matter expert to the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (formerly Department of Environment and Heritage Protection) in the investigation and prosecution of Linc Energy, and has given evidence in the committal and trial.

The review also considers relevant operational risk factors described in the EIR, specifically the approach to well design and the definition of the safe operating pressure envelope, and the Linc Energy Limited UCG program in Queensland and the relevance of that experience to the proposed LCK operation.

In summary, his findings detailed in his expert statement can be found in the report below

Independent Review of Site Suitability and Subsurface Risks for the Proposed Leigh Creek Energy UCG Demonstration Plant

Download the Independent Review of Site Suitability and Subsurface Risks for the Proposed Leigh Creek Energy UCG Demonstration Plant report (PDF 470 KB)

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Frequently Asked Questions

The following Frequently Asked Questions aims to provide the public with easily accessible and comprehensive responses to a range of questions asked by the public in relation to underground coal gasification. If you have a relevant questions not answered in the following Frequently Asked Questions, please contact the Energy Resources Division.

Underground Coal Gasification in South Australia

Download the brochure about Underground Coal Gasification in South Australia (PDF 351 KB)

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Presentations

Presentations by the Energy Resources Division in relation to underground coal gasification and/or the proposed Leigh Creek Energy in-situ gasification project are provided below.

Presented atPresented by and title of presentation

Engineers Australia

22 March 2018

Leigh Creek Energy Underground Coal Gasification Demonstration Plant Project (PDF 5MB)
Michael Malavazos, Director - Engineering Operations

Adnyamathanha Traditional Land Association Representatives

12 February 2018

Update on the Leigh Creek Energy Proposed Project Assessment (PDF 7MB)
Michael Malavazos, Director - Engineering Operations

Adnyamathanha Traditional Land Association Board Presentation

27 October 2017

Update on the Leigh Creek Energy Statement of Environmental Objective Submission (PDF 5MB)
Michael Malavazos, Director - Engineering Operations


Please note: these presentations are intended to provide general information on the Energy Resources Division, its role and regulatory functions, and proposed or current licensee projects under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 and associated regulations. Presentations should be considered in the context of the relevant legislation.

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