New Hope looks to the future

12 April 2013

The New Hope Group is constructing a small-scale coal to liquids (CTL) trial research and development plant at Jeebropilly, about 18 kilometres west of Ipswich.

A New Hope Group spokesperson said the proof of concept plant was designed to test leading edge CTL technology to determine if it could provide an alternative, sustainable and cost- effective source of diesel fuel. 
New Hope has commissioned a direct liquefaction CTL plant producing carbon products in West Virginia in the USA, and the CTL plant at Jeebropilly is an indirect liquefaction plant for the production of power and diesel. 
“New Hope expects to commission  its first trials at the Jeebropilly CTL plant in the fourth quarter of this year,” the spokesperson said. 
“The plant is located within the company’s mining lease on land that has previously been used for mining at Jeebropilly.
“It will process coal at a rate of about 1 tonne per hour and we expect it will synthesise up to about 300 litres of diesel for each tonne of coal which will be used by its mining operations.  
“As a ‘proof  of  concept’ investigation  aimed  at  determining  the  sustainability and viability of  the  new technology, this small scale project will assess and evaluate the performance of the CTL process. It has a carbon footprint equivalent to about four domestic houses.
The  capital expenditure on the CTL Project at Jeebropilly over the past seven years is estimated to be about $16 million dollars (AUD). 
The construction of the plant at Jeebropilly has created about 25 jobs.
New Hope has been investigating CTL technologies since 2005 and during pre-feasibility work has commissioned a number of laboratory and small-scale tests to assess CTL technologies. 
The CTL Project is part of the New Hope Group’s planned long term objective of establishing niche focussed, small-scale and cost-effective projects to support and ‘value add’ to small coal and gas reserves in other areas of Australia which otherwise might become stranded assets.

“If successful, future coal to liquid projects could offer an alternative fuel source for a wide range of industries – for example agriculture, trucking companies, rail haulage organisations and bus services,” the spokesperson said. 
“These outcomes would provide social and economic benefits to the wider community, particularly in the future when demand for energy resources, such as oil, start to exceed supply.”
A report prepared by  Air  Vice-Marshal  John  Blackburn AO  (Retd) for the NRMA titled ‘Australia’s Liquid Fuel Security’ released in February 2013, states Australia is heavily dependent on imports of refined petroleum products and crude oil to meet our fuel demand.
It also states we have a growing dependence on foreign supply of crude and refined products, a high impact of non-Australian logistical vulnerability, plus we have very poor stock coverage so that any major interruption to the supply chain would significantly impact our way of life.
The New Hope Group spokesperson said CTL was one potential way of offsetting some of this dependence on import fuels and improving fuel security.