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Coal Mine Methane (CMM) Resource Assessment and Emissions Inventory Development in Mongolia

CMM Resource Assessment and Emissions Inventory Development in Mongolia

The coal mining industry in Mongolia commands a dominant role in the developing economy of the country.  Mongolia produced almost 33 million metric tons of coal in 2011, almost entirely from surface mines. Mongolia’s energy needs are met primarily by coal; however, most coal was exported. Mongolia consumed 9.2 million metric tons of 2011 production to operate seven coal-fired combined heat and power plants, which generated 829 MW from 1062 MW of installed capacity. Mongolia’s proven coal reserves are 12.2 billion metric tons, including 2 billion metric tons of coking coal and 10.1 billion metric tons of thermal coal.

Reserves of Mongolia’s conventional oil and gas remain largely undiscovered, but coal mine methane (CMM) resources are known to exist based on gas occurrences reported from mining experience, coal exploration, and limited coalbed methane (CBM) exploration and testing.  In order to identify prospective CMM project sites, it is important to investigate the distribution and magnitude of methane resources associated with recoverable coal resources.  Partnering with RRR and cooperating mines, MNEC set out to provide a CMM Resources Assessment of key coal-producing basins in Mongolia. This project was proposed by MNEC in response to a USEPA Request for Proposals issued in December 2008.

Additionally, as coal production in Mongolia is on the rise with an over three-fold increase in production between 2008 and 2011, quantification of methane emissions as a result of coal mining activity provides a basis for tracking progress towards climate goals achieved by CMM recovery and utilization.  MNEC worked to develop a more accurate CMM Emissions Inventory in Mongolia utilizing the data made available during the CMM Resource Assessment; specifically, gas content information for key coal basins.  The approach employed by MNEC is prescribed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)[1].  A basin-specific Tier 2 approach is recommended in Mongolia to reduce uncertainty as mine-specific Tier 3 data are not feasible to obtain for surface mines at this time, which dominate Mongolia’s coal production.  With widespread coal deposits of varying rank, it is important to develop basin-specific emission factors.

In addition to the CMM Resource Assessment and CMM Emissions Inventory, MNEC worked to build capacity for CMM exploration and project development within Mongolia.  As part of the data collection required, MNEC worked with RRR to purchase equipment to measure coal gas content (desorption equipment) for use in Mongolia.  Developing the capacity for professional testing services establishes an incentive for testing to continue in Mongolia without the added costs and logistical problems associated with hiring testing companies outside of Mongolia.  MNEC also organized several training sessions on data collection and testing procedures, as well as CMM recovery and utilization opportunities.  MNEC performed outreach activities such as development of the “GMI in Mongolia” (2012) book in order to promote public awareness of CMM development in Mongolia.

[1] 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, Volume 2, Chapter 4