Australia registers export records across key mining states

Robust coal exports in both New South Wales and Queensland have proven that market demand remains strong amid carbon emission concerns and decisions to abandon the commodity from some companies.

The latest data from Coal Services confirms 2018 was another positive year for New South Wales coal exports, with global demand increasing on the previous year at “near record levels.”

New South Wales exported 164.6 million tonnes of coal in 2018, an increase of 838,000 tonnes on the previous year and over 23 per cent higher than in 2012.

Exports of New South Wales thermal coal were up by 1.6 million tonnes in 2018, an increase of 1.2 per cent on the previous year.

It appears the Asian market has driven the substantial increase of coal demand, with India and China importing nearly 37 (6.2 million tonnes) and 18.3 per cent (28.9 million tonnes) more coal than last year.

Coal export volumes to Vietnam also more than doubled, increasing to 1.8 million tonnes.

NSW Minerals Council considers the increased demand a reflection of Asia deploying more coal-fired power generation capacity, including new high efficiency low emission (HELE) power plants.

“Growth in coal exports to China and India, along with significant growth across emerging markets in Southeast Asia demonstrate the significant economic opportunities for our state, provided we get the policy settings right here in New South Wales,” NSW Minerals council chief executive Stephen Galilee said.

The strong demand is likewise mirrored in Queensland, where its coal exports surged to a record $82.8 billion – the third record month in a row – last year, riding on the increased value of coal, among others.

“Coal exports alone are worth $36.2 billion of the export total and are $5.5 billion higher than this time last year,” Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said.

“This year the resources sector will pay a record $5.2 billion in royalty taxes to the state government to pay for schools, hospitals and roads and build projects like the Cross River rail.”

In Western Australia, meanwhile, the state enjoyed strong performance from its liquefied natural gas (LNG) producers. They pushed the sector’s record sales to $127.4 billion last year, according to statistics from the WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS).

Western Australia’s LNG sales last year increased by 16 per cent on 2017’s $109.6 billion. Its LNG volumes increased by 34 per cent to a record 43.7 million tonnes.

Further, lithium sales in Western Australia rose by 24 per cent to a record 2.1 million tonnes last year. Gold sales volumes also increased for the third year in a row to reach 212 tonnes in 2018, their highest level since 1998.

The average number of workers in the Western Australian minerals sector in 2018 was 120,437, an increase from 111,000 in 2017.

“Creating and supporting jobs for Western Australians is the McGowan Government’s top priority, so it’s great to see growth in mining employment for a second year running,” Western Australia’s Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said.

“Together, the iron ore and gold sectors accounted for about 70 per cent of mineral sector jobs in 2018; it’s also pleasing to see further growth in LNG and lithium.

“The state has about $113 billion of resource projects in the pipeline.”

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