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NOTE: The Victorian Government is currently carrying out an independent review of all previous Government programs for coal development. The Government will release the coal review report once it has had the opportunity to consider the findings. The findings will inform the development of the Government’s coal policy which will be released for public consultation in late 2016.

Lignite/ Brown Coal

Proven resource potential

Victoria hosts 430 billion tonnes of brown coal, representing a significant proportion of the world’s brown coal endowment.

More than 80 per cent of Victoria’s resource is located in the Gippsland Basin (South East Victoria), with seams in the Latrobe Valley region containing an estimated measured resource of 65 billion tonnes. Approximately half of this has been identified as potentially economic.

Brown coal production is dominated by mining at three mines in the Latrobe Valley - Hazelwood, Loy Yang and Yallourn.

In 2013-14, total production in Victoria amounted to 57.8 Mt.

Victorian brown coal resources
Total estimated in situ brown coal in Victoria 430 billion tonnes
Measured brown coal in the Latrobe Valley 65 billion tonnes
Potentially economic brown coal in the Latrobe Valley 33 billion tonnes

Brown Coal DepositsFound near the surface in thick seams, the resource lends itself to low-cost, large-scale open-cut mining. Lignite seams in the Latrobe Valley are up to 100 metres thick, with multiple seams often giving virtually continuous thickness of up to 230 metres. Seams are typically located under only 10-20 metres of overburden.

Lignite to overburden ratios (between 0.5:1and 5:1) in the Latrobe Valley area of the Gippsland Basin indicate a high tonnage of resource for every cubic metre of non-coal material mined.

Beyond the Gippsland Basin, other brown coal deposits can be found in the Otway Basin (mainly within the Bacchus Marsh, Altona and the Anglesea coalfields) and across the Murray Basin. Access to all sites is subject to the appropriate exploration and mining licenses.

Gippsland Basin Map

Brown coal basics

Victoria’s lignite is typically low in ash, sulphur, heavy metals and nitrogen, making it very low in impurities by world standards. However, its high moisture content - which ranges from 48-70 per cent - reduces its effective energy content (average 8.6 MJ/kg on a net wet basis or 26.6 MJ/kg on a gross dry basis).

Typical Characteristics of Victorian Lignite Brown Coal
Energy value (net wet) 5.8 to 11.5 MJ/kg
Energy value (gross dry) 25 to 29 MJ/kg
Overburden thickness 10 to 20 metres
Strip ratio (coal: overburden) 0.5 to 5:1
Water 48 to 70%
Carbon 65 to 70%
Oxygen 25 to 30%
Hydrogen 4 to 5.5%
Ash <4%
Nitrogen <1%
Sulphur <1%

Low rank coal comparative

Gippsland Basin Map

Key
    Latrobe Valley     Puentes Spain
   Megalopolis Greece     Dakota Texas U.S.A
   Ptolemais Greece     Indonesian Low Rank
   Neurath D, Germany      
Net Specific Energy (MJ/kg)

Source: Allardice Consulting Ltd