Earth Resources

Facts and Figures About Brown Coal in Victoria

How much coal does Victoria have?

More than 80 per cent of Victoria’s 430 billion tonnes of brown coal is located in the Gippsland Basin in south-east Victoria.

Within the Gippsland region, the Latrobe Valley has an abundance of brown coal occurring in thick seams close to the earth’s surface – an estimated measured resource of around 65 billion tonnes.

Approximately half of the valley’s 65 billion tonnes of coal has been identified as potentially economic.

Victoria’s brown coal resources
Estimated brown coal in Victoria
430 billion tonnes
Measured brown coal in the Latrobe Valley
65 billion tonnes
Potentially economic brown coal in the Latrobe Valley 33 billion tonnes

A low cost energy resource

The valley’s thick seams lend themselves to low-cost, large-scale open-cut mining.

The seams are up to 100 metres thick. Multiple seams often give virtually continuous brown coal thickness of up to 230 metres. Seams are typically located under only 10 to 20 meters of overburden.

Coal to overburden ratios (between 0.5:1 and 5:1) in the area indicates a high tonnage of coal yield for every cubic metre of non-coal material mined. This combined with the easy digging characteristics make it some of the lowest-cost coal in the world.

Brown coal outside of the Gippsland Basin

Beyond the Gippsland Basin, other brown coal deposits can be found in the Otway Basin and across the Murray Basin.

Access to all sites is subject to the appropriate exploration, retention and mining licences.

Where Victoria’s black and brown coal resources can be found

This map shows Victoria’s black and brown coal resources in the state’s south-east, as well as an indication of undefined resources in the north.

This map detail shows the Gippsland Basin’s black coal fields to the west and brown coal fields around Moe, Morwell and Traralgon.

This image shows reclaimed area in Traralgon South. Photo courtesy of Powerworks.

The characteristics of Victoria’s brown coal

Victoria’s brown coal is typically low in ash, sulphur, heavy metals and nitrogen, making it very low in impurities by world standards.

However, its high moisture content – which ranges from 48 to 70 per cent – reduces its effective energy content (average 8.6 MJ/kg on a net wet basis or 26.6 MJ/kg on a gross dry basis).

Victorian brown coal characteristics
Energy value (net wet) 5.8 to 11.5 MJ/kg
Energy value (gross dry) 25 to 29 MJ/kg
Overburden thickness 10 to 20 metres
Strip ratio (coal: overburden) 0.5:1 to 5:1
Water 48 – 70%
Carbon 65 – 70%
Oxygen 25 – 30%
Hydrogen 4 – 5.5%
Ash <4%
Nitrogen <1%
Sulphur <1%

Contact us

If you would like to know more about Victoria’s brown coal industry, please contact the Earth Resources Information Centre.

Earth Resources  >  Victoria's Earth Resources  >  Coal  >  Access Coal Resources  >  Brown Coal Basics