|NASA Photo ID||ISS057-E-99919|
|Time taken||22:49:21 GMT|
5011 x 3341 pixels 720 x 480 pixels 5568 x 3712 pixels 640 x 427 pixels
|Nikon D5 Electronic Still Camera|
|5568E: 5568 x 3712 pixel CMOS sensor, 35.9 x 23.9 mm, total pixels: 21.33 million, Nikon FX format|
|5011 pixels||3341 pixels||No||No||NASA's Earth Observatory web site||Download Image|
|720 pixels||480 pixels||Yes||No||NASA's Earth Observatory web site||Download Image|
|5568 pixels||3712 pixels||No||No||Download Image|
|640 pixels||427 pixels||No||No||Download Image|
An astronaut on board the International Space Station (ISS) shot this photograph of a mining town in the Surat Basin of Queensland, Australia. The basin is made up of 150 million-year-old sediments and contains more than four billion tons of proven thermal coal resources.
The Wilkie Creek surface mine used to produce low-emission thermal coal. Thermal or "steam" coal is burned to create steam for electricity generation. The deposits in the region contain methane gas, which can present safety risks during mining operations. As a safety precaution, boreholes were drilled from the surface into the deposits to create gas wells, allowing the methane to vent before mining. These gas wells are sprinkled throughout the darker forested areas in the image, where bare squares of land are connected by a grid-like pattern of roads.
Due to the decreased demand for coal, mining operations at Wilkie Creek Mine were suspended starting in 2013 after 18 years of coal production. While the man-made surface changes are still visible from space, land rehabilitation efforts are now underway. According to information from Peabody Energy, the project site is being transformed into grazing land for cattle.