Where does Australia’s coal go? [infographic]

Australia is the 21st largest export economy in the world and the 56th most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI), and in 2014 exported $243 billion worth of goods.

Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter, – accounting for 35 per cent of all coal exported – with the majority of the tonnages travelling to our nearby neighbours in Asia.

Despite being the world’s largest exporter, coal is only our second largest export, after iron ore and ahead of gold, accounting for around 15 per cent of all exports.

But where does the coal we dig up go, and who actually consumes the most Australian coal?

The largest consumer may surprise you, as it isn’t actually China.

CarbonBrief has created a handy infographic visualising who imported Australian coal in 2014, and how much they consumed.

coal trade


And to break down the numbers a little more, Havard’s Center for International Development’s Atlas of Economic Complexity gives clear figures, and percentages on the largest consumers of Australian coal in 2014.


[All figures in US dollars]

Japan – 34% ($12B)

China- 24% ($8.55B)

South Korea – 15% ($5.24B)

India – 14% ($5.13B)

Germany – 2% ($755M)

Brazil – 1% ($491M)

France – 1% ($449M)

Malaysia – 1% ($421M)

Thailand – .76% ($270M)

Indonesia – .69% ($244M)

Mexico – .60% ($213M)

Belgium – .56% ($201M)

Netherlands .55% ($197M)

Poland – .49% ($174M)

Sweden – .48% ($172M)

UK – .4% ($141M)






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