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Best Practice Guidance for Effective Methane Recovery and Use from Abandoned Coal Mines

image of Best Practice Guidance for Effective Methane Recovery and Use from Abandoned Coal Mines

Coal production, transportation, storage and use account for roughly 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas with a 100-year global warming potential 25 times that of carbon dioxide (CO2) and a 100-year global temperature potential 6-fold greater than CO2, once released from coal seams in which it is trapped creates number of problems even after cessation of mining activities. Following mine closure, methane emissions decrease, but do not stop completely. They initially decline, but can later stabilize and maintain a near-constant rate for an extended period of time. The document presents recommended principles and standards for effective methane recovery and use from abandoned coal mines in a clear and succinct way, providing decision-makers with a solid base of understanding from which to direct policy and commercial decisions. The Best Practice Guidance does not replace or supersede laws and regulations or other legally binding instruments, whether national or international. The principles outlined therein are intended to complement existing legal and regulatory frameworks and to support development of safer and more effective practices where industry practice and regulation continue to evolve. At the same time, being envisioned primarily as a tool to support performance- and principle-based regulatory programmes, the Best Practice Guidance can also complement more prescriptive regulation and support transition to performance-based regulation.

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Executive Summary

Closure of coal mines, and therefore Abandoned Mine Methane (AMM) emissions, will continue to be a relevant and important issue for the foreseeable future as countries continue to exploit and exhaust their coal reserves at a faster pace. This is true for many developed countries where coal production is declining, and mines are closing. However, this is also the case in some developed and developing economies where coal production will continue to play a significant role in the energy mix and closing mines are replaced by new mines. The total sum of emissions from closed and closing mines could, therefore, is substantial and will likely grow in importance. Forecasts of global coal mine methane emissions indicate that AMM represented 17% of the total mine methane emissions in 2010 and the proportion may increase to as much as 24% in 2050 (Kholod et al, 2018).

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