Idemitsu starts biomass trial at Ensham mine
Idemitsu Australia Resources has launched a biomass trial at its Ensham coal mine near Emerald, which will see crops grown at the site harvested and turned into pellets to fuel Japanese power stations.
The project is trialling different crops for commercial pelletisation, in line with the company’s ongoing commitment to expand its renewable energy activities.
Idemitsu Australia Resources Chief Commercial Officer Chris Walsh said sustainable pelletisation was one option the company was keen to explore.
“While Ensham is a long-life asset for the company, with production plans out to 2038, Idemitsu is also embracing opportunities in renewables,’ Mr Walsh said.
“The development of a viable biomass supply is a key long-term strategy for Idemitsu, including the possibility of a biomass hub being developed and operated at Ensham.
“Successful development of a viable biomass supply chain would place Queensland at the forefront of this emerging global sector.”
Pelletisation involves creating pellets from organic substances, which can then be used as an alternative to fossil fuels, creating fewer emissions when burned.
The Ensham project is trialling fast-growing crops such as sorghum, which are designed to provide a sustainable source for pellets.
The project is receiving support from the Department of State Development, Tourism and Innovation, and from TIQ, who introduced Idemitsu to Brisbane pelletisation company Moxiepel Australia.
Mr Walsh said the trial was the first step in a project that could have wider implications.
“Depending on the trial outcomes, we may be able to develop a large-scale cropping and pelletisation plant at Ensham,” he said.
“The project is also being watched with interest by our parent company, Idemitsu Kosan Co.,Ltd. in Japan.
“And, of course, we’re continuing to talk to TIQ about other investment opportunities that may emerge here in Queensland.”
The first sorghum crop was harvested at Ensham in May this year and pelletised before being shipped to Japan for testing in Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd.’s research and development laboratories in September.
The test results will determine next steps including crop suitability for scaling up Idemitsu’s biomass operations in Queensland.
Renewables and biofuels are identified as one of Queensland’s emerging export strengths in the Queensland Trade and Investment Strategy 2017–2022.
The Queensland Government has also committed to developing an export-oriented bioproducts sector in its Biofutures 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan.