Joint Media Release: New baseline data provides greater clarity for environmental decisions

15 May 2020

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
The Hon Keith Pitt MP, Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia


The Morrison Government has released independent scientific research to identify and manage environmental impacts from potential gas developments in the Cooper, Isa and Beetaloo basins.

Part of a $35.4 million Geological and Bioregional Assessment Program, the baseline analysis from the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia will ensure greater consistency of data across a range of project proposals and greater efficiency in being able to assess impacts.

Stage one of the program identified the Cooper Basin in Queensland and South Australia, the Isa Superbasin in Queensland and the Northern Territory’s Beetaloo Sub-basin as highly prospective for unconventional gas exploration with the potential to boost supply to Australia’s East Coast Gas Market.

Stage two, released today, identifies significant gas resources and provides geological, hydrological, chemical and environmental data to form a robust baseline from which to assess projects and to identify any gaps in data available.

The final stage of the program is underway and will analyse the potential impacts of shale and tight gas development to water resources and the environment. The analysis will inform government decision making on future developments.

“This is about looking forward, understanding where industry is focussing and taking a proactive approach to establishing consistent environmental baseline data that allows accurate regional planning” Minister Ley said.

“It allows potential impacts of individual projects to be assessed against independent and reliable information prepared by two of the most respected science institutions in the country.”

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said that the Government is committed to simplifying and streamlining project approval processes.

“Australia needs mining and energy now more than ever and this will provide greater certainty for proponents looking to boost essential supply to the East Coast Gas Market” Minister Pitt said.

“The shale gas activities in the Beetaloo Basin alone are worth an estimated $9.1 billion and can also play an important role in the development of hydrogen as a future clean energy source.

“We need a framework that sets out how decisions will be made and one that allows those investing billions of dollars in our economy to know where that money can be invested.

“At the same time we have the baseline data we need to monitor and protect our precious water resources.”

The geological and environmental baseline assessment reports are available on the Geological and Bioregional Assessments website at: www.bioregionalassessments.gov.au/geological-and-bioregional-assessment-program