Coal is a cornerstone Australian industry built on the efforts of hard working Australians with the majority in regional areas. It has a strong future which can meet the requirements of a modern economy.  

The industry employed around 46,000 workers in 2017, with another 120,000 indirect jobs supported by the coal industry.

In 2016-17 Australia exported 202 Mt of thermal (energy) coal worth $18.9 billion and 177 Mt of metallurgical (steel-making) coal worth $35.3 billion.

Coal royalties paid in 2016-17 included:

  • Queensland: $3.4 billion
  • NSW: $1.6 billion
  • Victoria: $66 million

The Australian economy continues to rely on coal as a source of affordable, reliable electricity.

The most recent Summer Operations Review from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) showed that coal-fired power generation kept lights and air conditioners on and kept businesses running in Australia during the past summer.

AEMO noted that "the NEM coal generation fleet recorded its fourth-highest summer availability for the past 10 years” and that over the most recent summer, coal-fired power generation produced more than 76 per cent of large scale power generation in the National Electricity Market (NEM), with the next highest being gas at just under 10 per cent.

Coal’s dominance as a reliable source of energy over summer was even clearer in NSW, where 89 per cent of power came from coal. In Queensland it was 85 per cent and Victoria 82 per cent. 

Australian coal is in demand for both energy and steel making. Its high-energy, low ash characteristics ideally match the requirements for HELE coal-fired power plants being built throughout Asia, while our high grade metallurgical coals are amongst the best in the world for modern steel making.

Australian coal can also reduce emissions when compared to lower-quality coal from other exporters. Supplier reliability, proximity to key markets and good infrastructure availability puts Australia in a strong position to take advantage of growing demand from existing customers such as Japan, China, Taiwan and Korea as well as newer buyers such as Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand.

Coal mining in Australia is a sophisticated and hi-tech activity. Continuous improvements in mining technology, occupational health and safety and environmental performance have ensured that Australia is an efficient and reliable producer of high-quality thermal and metallurgical coals for the international market.