Coal Around the World
As a low cost electricity source coal has no equal. Coal supplies more than 40% of the world’s energy needs, and in many countries coal is a plentiful, cheap source of fuel. Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel with more than one trillion tonnes in reserve - more than 120 years' worth of supply.
Over the past decade demand for coal has risen by 55% - the greatest growth of any energy source including oil and renewables. The greatest global increase in demand for coal came from China which experienced an 80% increase in coal demand over the past decade.
China and India – which experienced an 11% increase over the same period – are expected to continue to drive the demand for coal internationally as a consequence of faster population and economic growth.
According to Australia’s Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE), world trade in metallurgical coal is set to increase at an average annual rate of five %, rising from 271 million tonnes in 2011 to 345 million tonnes in 2017. The strongest demand is expected to come from India, China and Brazil, underpinned by robust growth in steel production.
According to projected estimates India is expected to overtake China as the primary importer of hard coal within the next decade.
Top Ten Hard Coal Producers as at 2010
Top Ten Coal Consumers (2010)
Top Coal Exporters (2010)
Proved Reserves at end of 2009
Country Billion Tonnes
PR China 114.5
South Africa 30.4
Source: World Coal Association
Reclaimer, Curragh Mine Queensland, photo by Evan Colliss supplied by Wesfarmers