Arckaringa subregion

Hookeys waterhole in Neales catchment, SA. November 2009 Credit: ​Dale McNeil (South Australian Research and Development Institute)

This bioregional assessment helps us understand how coal seam gas and coal mining development could affect water resources and water-dependent assets in the Arckaringa subregion. It identifies where potential impacts might occur, as well as the areas that are unlikely to be affected. The assessment was undertaken in collaboration with the South Australian Government.

About this subregion

The Arckaringa subregion is part of the Lake Eyre Basin bioregion and is entirely within South Australia. It has a largely flat desert landscape consisting of sand dunes, stony gibber plains and shrublands. Coober Pedy is the largest town in the sparsely populated subregion. Land is primarily used for livestock grazing on native pasture.

The Arckaringa subregion contains springs that are part of the nationally important Great Artesian Basin supergroup of springs. These springs are home to a diverse and often unique range of native plants and animals, including many that are listed as rare or threatened under Commonwealth and state government legislation. Most of the water supply in the Arckaringa subregion comes from groundwater, as surface water supplies are scarce and unreliable. Most groundwater is pumped from the Great Artesian Basin with a smaller amount taken from the underlying Arckaringa Basin.

Coal mining and coal seam gas operations

The Arckaringa subregion is underlain by rocks of different ages that belong to four geological basins: the Arckaringa, Eromanga, Warburton and Officer basins. Coal occurs extensively in the Arckaringa Basin; however, most of it is located deep beneath the Great Artesian Basin. Given the depth of the coal and the lack of existing infrastructure there are no current proposals for coal mining in this subregion. Coal mining proposals are considered unlikely for the foreseeable future.

There are no commercial coal seam gas developments in the Arckaringa subregion, though exploration work has been undertaken for both conventional and unconventional gas. Evaluation has suggested that the coal seams in this subregion are not mature enough to generate significant coal seam gas volumes, making commercial production unlikely in the foreseeable future.

About the bioregional assessment

The bioregional assessment for the Arckaringa subregion includes compilation of background information, a water-dependent asset register and a data register. Results from this work have shown there is low potential for coal or coal seam gas development in this subregion. It is for this reason that the bioregional assessment does not include further analysis such as model-data analysis and the impact and risk analysis. The information collected for the Arckaringa subregion may be used for future assessments or environmental studies.

Last updated:
8 April 2016