QUESTION: Suspension of UCG trial at Leigh Creek

During Question Time, Mark asked the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, representing the Minister for Energy and Mining about the suspension of Leigh Creek Energy's three month trial of underground coal gasification in order to reignite the coal seam underground. 

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: Forty minutes ago, Leigh Creek Energy notified the Australian stock exchange of the failure of their gasification process as part of their precommercial trials of underground coal gasification at Leigh Creek. Apparently, the company wrote to the department on 5 November. It pointed out that the gases that were observed on 11 October were mainly air, nitrogen, oxygen, with some products of combustion—carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide—but they have only detected trace amounts of gasification products, being methane and carbon monoxide.

They then sought a suspension of their three-month trial, a suspension of four weeks, so they could try to reignite the coal seam under the ground. That was on 5 November. Two days later, on 7 November, under delegated authority, the director of Energy Resources with the Department for Energy and Mining approved that suspension. Today, at 2.20pm central time, the company notified the stock exchange.

My questions, which I would ask the minister to pass on to his colleague in another place, are:

1. Is the government undertaking any independent monitoring of pollution from this project or is it relying entirely on information it receives from the proponent?

2. What is the government's estimate of the quantity of greenhouse gases that have been or are being vented directly to the atmosphere in the absence of flaring?

3. Is the minister at all concerned that the company didn't notify the stock exchange for eight days after seeking permission for the extension?

4. When will the government realise that risky and polluting coal projects have no place in South Australia's renewable energy future?

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment): I thank the honourable member for his ongoing extreme and enthusiastic interest in the Leigh Creek Energy Project. I will be very happy to take all of those questions on notice and refer them to the Minister for Energy and Mining in another place.