Glencore’s Hail Creek open cut coal mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin released more methane pollution in 16 days than the company reported was emitted over an entire year, satellite images have revealed.

A total of 61 methane plumes were observed across Australia in 2023 in a review of publicly available data sources showing emissions of methane – a climate-heating gas that is more than 80 times more damaging to the atmosphere over 20 years than carbon dioxide.

The review, released today by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), found:

  • Almost all (58) of the 61 plumes occurred in regions with significant coal and gas infrastructure.
  • Four plumes over Glencore’s Hail Creek coal mine in 2023, a rare sighting suggesting an extended super-emitting event in June 2023. At least 8,640 tonnes of methane would have been emitted in this period – more than the coal mine reported for a full year.

“Methane is a toxic climate-heating gas that’s turbocharging heatwaves, bushfires and coral bleaching events,” said ACF’s methane campaigner Piper Rollins.

“A methane plume is identifiable when so much methane pollution is released into the air that it can be detected from a satellite more than 800 kilometres above the ground in space.

“The satellite evidence shows that in just 16 days, Glencore’s Hail Creek coal mine likely emitted more methane pollution than it reports in a whole year – and these are just the emissions we know about because the satellite happened to catch them.

“In the first year of the reformed safeguard mechanism’s operation, Glencore will receive several million dollars in climate credits for the Hail Creek coal mine – despite compelling evidence Hail Creek is way more polluting than Glencore says it is.

“This report shows up a gaping hole in the system for calculating and regulating emissions from the fossil fuel industry.

“ACF urges Climate Minister Chris Bowen to make it mandatory for all coal and gas facilities to accurately measure and publicly report their emissions.”

The Albanese government is reviewing the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme (NGERS).

ACF Media Enquiries

Journalists with enquiries may contact Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email [email protected]