Green light for $1 billion coal gasification project


A $1 billion energy and ammonia project has been declared a coordinated project by Queensland’s independent coordinator-general.

In an Australian first, Brisbane-based Australian Future Energy (AFE) will convert coal into ammonia, natural gas and electricity.

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said the next step for the project, to be located in the Gladstone State Development Area (SDA), is an environmental impact statement (EIS).

“If approved, the project will make a significant contribution to the regional economy requiring a peak workforce of 800 jobs during the two-year construction period and up to 200 full-time equivalent jobs for the 30-year operational period,” he said.

“AFE proposes to convert 1.5 million tonnes per annum of coal to produce up to 330,000 tonnes of ammonia per annum, six to eight petajoules of synthetic natural gas per annum and up to 96MW of electrical power generated from waste gas and heat.

“This ammonia and synthetic natural gas will then be used by major industrial users, including those focusing on agriculture, the mining industry and advanced manufacturing.”

Ammonia is used to make a range of products used in agricultural and mining industries, like ammonium nitrate as an explosive in mining and nitrogen bases fertilisers in agriculture.

“While ammonia is produced elsewhere in Australia, this is the first time the proposed coal gasification technology will be used to produce ammonia in Queensland,” Mr Dick said.

“The project also proposes to use coal sourced from existing regional mines located close to Gladstone, further strengthening regional employment and job security.”

Mr Dick said the coordinator-general’s decision would help streamline approvals and fast-track deliver of the project.

A coordinated project approach also means all the potential impacts and benefits of the project are considered in an integrated and comprehensive manner, Mr Dick said.

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said locating the proposed project within the Gladstone SDA would support the region’s growing manufacturing industry.

“The proponent has estimated 1280 indirect jobs would be created during the operational phase, generating significant additional jobs for regional suppliers and contractors as well as increased employment opportunities for local communities,” Mr Butcher said.

“To have an Australian-first project of this scale proposed to happen right here in our backyard sends a strong signal that Gladstone is open for business and ready to embrace innovative energy initiatives which tap into our resource-rich region.”

The next step in the project is preparation of draft terms of reference by the coordinator-general who will then invite community comment on the matters that must be addressed in the EIS.

The project is estimated to commence construction mid-2020, with the first ammonia production proposed in mid-2022.