Glencore Seeks Approval for Controversial Carbon Capture Project in Australia

Glencore seeks approval for a A$210 million pilot project to bury 330,000 metric tons of CO2 from a Queensland coal-fired power plant. The project faces opposition from farm groups and Queensland's Premier, citing concerns over potential groundwater contamination.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Glencore Seeks Approval for Controversial Carbon Capture Project in Australia

Glencore Seeks Approval for Controversial Carbon Capture Project in Australia

Glencore, the Swiss commodities giant, is seeking approval for a A$210 million ($135 million) pilot project to bury 330,000 metric tons of CO2 from a coal-fired power plant in Queensland, Australia's largest aquifer. The three-year project, managed by Glencore subsidiary Carbon Transport and Storage Corporation, aims to capture 2% of the emissions from the Millmerran power plant, with the potential to rise to 90% in the future.

The project has received A$10 million each from Japan's Marubeni Corp. and J-POWER in 2022. It is seen as a crucial test case for onshore carbon capture and storage (CCS) in Australia, a technology deemed essential for the country to reach net zero emissions. Australia currently has one active CCS project, two under construction, and 14 in development.

Why this matters: The success or failure of this project will have significant implications for the adoption of carbon capture and storage technology globally, and could influence the pace of transition to net zero emissions. As the world grapples with the challenges of climate change, the outcome of this project will be closely watched by governments, industries, and environmental groups alike.

However, the project has faced opposition from farm groups, including the AgForce farm association, who argue that the acidic CO2 could release and spread toxic substances like lead and arsenic in the groundwater network. Queensland's Premier, Steven Miles, has also expressed skepticism about the project.

Glencore spokesperson Francis De Rosa defended the project, stating, "It is based on robust data and analysis and that CO2 is unlikely to spread significantly." The Queensland government is set to decide by the end of May on Glencore's environmental impact assessment.

The Glencore project highlights the ongoing debate surrounding carbon capture and storage technology as a means to combat climate change. While proponents see it as a necessary tool to reduce emissions, critics raise concerns about its long-term effectiveness and potential environmental risks. The decision by the Queensland government on this pilot project will likely have significant implications for the future of CCS in Australia and beyond.

Key Takeaways

  • Glencore seeks approval for A$210m CO2 burial project in Queensland, Australia.
  • Project aims to capture 2% of emissions from Millmerran power plant, potentially rising to 90%.
  • Australia has 1 active, 2 under construction, and 14 CCS projects in development.
  • Farm groups and Queensland Premier oppose project, citing groundwater contamination risks.
  • Queensland government to decide on environmental impact assessment by end of May.