The Agri-Gas Fields of Australia: Black Soil, Food, and Unconventional Gas


  • Kim de Rijke

    1. School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD, Australia
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    • Dr. Kim de Rijke is currently researching coal seam gas disputes in Australia, with a particular focus on land use, emplaced identity, materiality, symbolic politics, and visions of nature.


Underneath some of the most exceptional Australian farm lands lie far more unconventional natural resources: huge methane reserves contained inside deep underground coal seams. In the last few years, Australia has seen a veritable boom in high capital foreign investments to extract and export this coal seam gas (CSG), particularly in the state of Queensland, where a few thousand gas wells have now been constructed despite significant opposition and concern. Based on the public record and ongoing anthropological fieldwork in the agricultural region of the Darling Downs in southern Queensland, this paper sets out some of the key issues of what might be described as the Australian agri-gas field conflict. It takes a view of agri-gas fields as sites of socioeconomic transformation where cultural boundaries of place and matter are contested, forcing farmers and others to reassess variously imagined future human–environment relationships in the region, Australia, and beyond.