Production and resources
The Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) estimates that saleable black coal production in Australia was 401.4 million tonnes in 2012-13. This was more than 46 per cent higher as compared with a decade ago and more than 140 per cent higher as compared with 1990-91 (Chart 1).
Coal is mined in all six Australian States, however, Queensland (52 per cent) and New South Wales (46 per cent) together account for almost 98 per cent of Australia’s black coal production.
In 2012 Australia accounted for 5 per cent of global black coal production, down from 7.2 per cent in 2002 (Chart 2). Over that period, global black coal production increased by more than 80 per cent and China increased its share of global production from about 35 per cent to more than 51 per cent.
In Australia, nearly 80 per cent of coal is produced from open-cut mines in contrast with the rest of the world where open-cut mining accounts for 40 per cent of coal production. Open cut mining is cheaper than underground mining and enables up to 90 per cent recovery of the resource.
Australia has the 5th largest reserves of black coal in the world (as measured by economic demonstrated resources). According to Geoscience Australia estimates, Australia’s economic demonstrated resources (EDR) of black coal in December 2012 was 61,082 Mt tonnes, about 9 per cent of the global total. The United States of America has the largest share of coal resources in the world, followed by China, India and Russia.
In Australia black coal occurs in all states, but Queensland (63 per cent) and New South Wales (23 per cent) have the largest share of total identified EDR.
Over the last decade, Australia’s share of global production has fallen, although its share of resources has increased. Australia accounted for almost 9 per cent of global production in 2002, which has fallen to 7.5 per cent in 2012 (Chart 3). However, Australia’s black coal resources share increased in the same period from about 5.1 per cent in 2002 to about 9.2 per cent in 2012. This can in part be explained due to increased supply from competitors, leading to reduced share of global coal market and to increased exploration activity in Australia, which has resulted in significant increase in resources.
At current rates of production, Australia has more than 110 years of black coal resources.