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Abandoned Mine Methane

Coal is central to the energy mix of many countries and has played a significant role in alleviating energy poverty around the world. Inevitably, coal reserves are depleted as coal extraction progresses and mines are closed and abandoned.  Abandoned mines continue to emit methane for many years after closure, yet their emissions remain unchecked and uncounted in many coal producing regions.

Closed mines can provide a small but significant opportunity to exploit a clean energy resource, known as Abandoned Mine Methane (AMM), that can be extracted and used.  AMM capture and use offers many benefits, such as improved safety, air quality and health, energy supply and environmental performance. Technology exists that can recover methane from abandoned coal mines.

The Best Practice Guidance for Effective Methane Recovery and Use from Abandoned Coal Mines (BPG on AMM) is aimed at raising awareness of AMM opportunities and hazards by providing accessible high-level guidance for senior corporate, government and financial decision-makers – all of whom play an integral role in decisions to implement best practices. Recommended principles and standards on coal mine methane (CMM) capture and use have already been set out in the Best Practice Guidance on Effective Methane Drainage and Use in Coal Mines. The BPG on AMM complements that guidance and is aimed at completing the coal mining cycle by considering the methane emissions that continue after mining has ceased and mines have closed. 

The BPG on AMM does not replace or supersede laws and regulations or other legally binding instruments, whether national or international. A clear legal framework and supportive policies can help in getting methane to market. The principles outlined herein are intended to provide guidance to complement existing legal and regulatory frameworks and to support development of post-mining projects to reduce the overall emissions attributable to the coal mining life cycle by optimising recovery and use of methane that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere. To gain a greater understanding about the potential growth of these emissions, UNECE member states and GMI members are urged to consider ways to improve their knowledge of the magnitude and rate of growth of this emission source by including methane emissions from abandoned underground coal mines in their national inventories.

Please see also a press release announcing issuance of the document.