Black coal is Australia’s second-highest export commodity and Australia is the world’s leading coal exporter.
Over the past 10 years black coal exports have increased by more than 50%.
Japan takes 39.3% of Australia’s black coal exports – the largest share, with a total of 115.3 million tonnes exported last financial year.
China is our second largest market with 42.4 million tonnes in 2009-2010, almost double the previous year.
The Republic of Korea accounts for 40.7 million tonnes, India for 31.92 million tonnes and Taiwan for 26.53 million tonnes, rounding out the top five destinations for coal from Australia.
Together these five countries accounted for 88% of all black coal exports with a further 28 countries taking the remaining 12%.
Demand for coal in China and India is expected to increase dramatically over the next decade in line with these countries’ projected need for coal for energy and manufacturing.
Australia was the only one of the world’s 33 advanced economies to grow in 2009 during the worst global recession since the Great Depression.
The principal reason for this was our continued coal exports. The importance of coal in the economy is also evident in its growing share of Gross Domestic Product.
This share has more than doubled, from 1.7 % in 2006-07 to 3.5 % in 2008-09, making it the largest contributor to the mining sector.
In 2011, Australia’s thermal coal exports grew by four %, relative to 2010, to total 148 million tonnes. Projections for 2012 see an increase of 10% in 2012 to 162 million tonnes, then growing at an average annual rate of 11 % between 2013 and 2017, to total 271 million tonnes by the end of the period.
Australia’s exports of metallurgical coal are forecast to increase at an average annual rate of eight %, reaching 218 million tonnes in 2017, with total earnings forecast at $40 billion in current Australian dollars.
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Reclaimer, Curragh Mine Queensland, photo by Evan Colliss supplied by Wesfarmer