Thermal coal exports to steady before a slide

Demand for thermal coal is expected to hold steady until the end of the decade before going into a slow decline out to 2050, with the Port of Newcastle expecting demand for its coal exports to peak about 2027.

A Hong Kong ship is loaded with coal in the Port of Newcastle in 2019. Picture: Liam Driver
A Hong Kong ship is loaded with coal in the Port of Newcastle in 2019. Picture: Liam Driver

According to a strategic statement on coal exploration and mining issued by the NSW government, the coal industry remains critical to the state economy and provides more than 22,000 direct jobs and about 89,000 indirect jobs.

It also notes that while royalties from coal brought in about $2bn in 2018-19, about 80 per cent of the state’s electricity is still generated by coal.

Projections determined in the NSW government paper, which includes a foreword from Deputy Premier John Barilaro, shows thermal coal demand from the state’s key export markets in East Asia and Southeast Asia holding firm at a little above 600 million metric tonnes until about 2030, when exports begin to decline.

By 2050, demand from the state’s key thermal coal export markets are forecast to be running at about 470 million metric tonnes.

“Over the coming decades, the coal mining industry will be directly affected by the global transition to different forms of energy generation,” Mr Barilaro said.

“However, this transition will not happen overnight.

“The NSW government will take a balanced approach, ­allowing exports to continue while there is global demand, but significantly scaling back where mining can occur and working to reduce its impacts and address community concerns.

“Recognising that coal is likely to have a finite lifespan as an energy source, we will work to support coal-dependent communities to diversify for the ­future.”

Read the full article published in The Australian, 9th February 2021