Australian Government highlights coal ties with Japan in Honshu visit

A bipartisan delegation of Federal Members of Parliament has visited Japan to discuss the importance of Australian coal to Japan’s energy supply and economy.

The visit was organised by the Australian coal industry through Mineral Councils of Australia’s COAL21 Fund.

Japanese officials acknowledged Australia and Japan’s enduring coal trade links, praising the reliability and premium quality of Australian coal supply.

An important part of the visit included policy discussions with counterpart organisations and government agencies, which included Australia’s lead energy policy department the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The discussion also centred around coal supply issues, and technology approaches needed to establish a first-class energy system.

Japan is not only Australia’s major coal customer, but also a leading power equipment manufacturer providing world leading high efficiency low emission (HELE) plants and integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technologies.

COAL21 fund chief executive Greg Evans said that Japanese power companies have plans to build another 30 HELE coal plants.

Mark Vaile, former Deputy Prime Minister and current Whitehaven Coal chairman, said, “Japan is Australia’s largest coal customer at $16.5 billion in 2017 and our longest-term coal export partner, with the trade spanning more than 60 years.

“With Australia’s coal exports reaching a record high of $60.1 billion from 2017 to 2018, our coal trade with Japan is economically and strategically important to both nations and should not be taken for granted.”

The team also inspected one of the world’s most efficient coal-fired power stations, the JPower Isogo plant in Kanagawa, and visited Nippon Steel’s large-scale Kimitsu steel plant in Chiba. (Both are located on Japan’s main island of Honshu.)

Seventy-three per cent of Australia’s coal imports are made up of thermal (energy) coal, while the remaining 47 per cent is comprised by coking (steel-making) coal.

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