Global Methane Emissions from Coal Mining to Continue Growing Even with Declining Coal Production


Sector:Coal Mines
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Coal mines are one of the largest sources of anthropogenic methane emissions. As the world produces more coal, coal mines get deeper every year, and methane emissions grow with increasing mining depth. Mine operators also abandon old coal mines, which still emit methane into the atmosphere. The U.S. EPA, in collaboration with the Global Methane Initiative and several other organizations, co-authored this paper that presents projections of global methane emissions from coal mining under different coal extraction scenarios and with increasing mining depth through 2100. The study estimates methane emissions from underground and surface coal production while accounting for the increase in mining depth using several new and compiled data sets. The results show that total methane emissions from coal mining are higher than suggested by previous studies. More importantly, methane emissions from the growing number of abandoned mines increase faster than methane emissions from existing mines. Abandoned mine methane emissions continue through the century even with aggressive mitigation actions. The study concludes that future methane emissions are significantly higher than those in previous studies and that methane resources at abandoned mines will grow regardless of future coal production. This research provides insights for improving future emissions inventories.