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New Centre of Excellence on Coal Mine Methane in China will help to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of coal mining and enhance safety

Published: 19 May 2017

China has been the world’s largest coal producer for the past three decades. It also is one of the largest emitters of coal mine methane, with 43% of the world’s total. In 2016, China produced 3.4 billion tonnes of coal. During the extraction, 13.5 billion cubic meters of methane released from the coal seams were captured. Of those amounts, only 35% were used as energy. The remaining 65% escaped to the atmosphere. Addressing uncaptured and released methane emissions will significantly reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of coal mining. Furthermore, proper methane management will also bring important benefits for safety in underground coal mines by lowering the risks of explosions. 

In order to tackle this issue, UNECE and the Shanxi Coking Coal Group Ltd. (SCCG) signed today a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that provides a basis for establishing an International Centre of Excellence on Coal Mine Methane (ICE-CMM) in China, which is expected to become operational in 2018.

At the signing ceremony, UNECE Executive Secretary, Mr. Christian Friis Bach, emphasized: “Coal will continue to be part of the global energy supply for the foreseeable future. Reducing coal’s environmental footprint and its consequences for local mining communities is an important step in the transition to a sustainable energy future.  We are pleased to work with China to achieve these objectives.”

SCCG General Manager, Mr. Jin Zhixin stressed that “the MOU will open a new chapter in gas management for SCCG, which is the largest coking coal producer in China. Through ICE-CMM and its global partners, the company will strive not only to implement, but also to demonstrate and disseminate in China and beyond best practices in gas capture and use that were developed by the UNECE Group of Experts on CMM.” In this context, Mr. Jin also added that “in the next 4 years SCCG is planning to implement over 70 MW of new CMM power generation, as a demonstration of its commitment to increasing the share of clean power generation, reducing GHG emissions, and improving the safety of its mines.”

This partnership provides UNECE’s Group of Experts on CMM with a unique opportunity to engage directly with stakeholders across China’s coal mining industry.

Note to editors

The idea of creating a network of independent centres operating to disseminate best practice guidance in coal mine methane was posited by the UNECE Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane in 2013. The self-financing Centres are non-profit entities that operate under the rules and regulations of the host government but maintain strong links with UNECE’s groups of experts through generic Terms of Reference and MoUs tailored to the specific conditions and needs of each host country.

The primary goal of ICE-CMMs is to support capacity-building activities of the UNECE Group of Experts on CMM and to serve as platforms for discussion and exchange of knowledge on safety, environmental, and economic aspects of CMM. In particular, the centres are expected to contribute to further development and dissemination of the UNECE-determined best practices for effective methane drainage and use in coal mines. Each centre will collaborate and cooperate with the others in the network to enhance their effectiveness.

The first ICE-CMM will open on 7-9 June 2017 in Katowice, Poland. It is governed by an MoU signed in 2015 with the Polish Government.  

The host of the future ICE-CMM, SCCG, is based in Shanxi Province, which generates roughly a quarter of China’s coal production. The company itself operates 100 coal mines. SCCG also operates 11 gas power plants with an installed capacity of 113 MW, including three world-class CMM installations generating up to 31MWe.


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