The World Coal Association has appointed Harry Kenyon-Slaney, Rio Tinto Energy's chief executive, as its new chairman.
Kenyon-Slaney will replace exiting chairman Zhang Xiwu, the current chairman of Shenhua Group, following the WCA general meeting in Canberra late last month.
Following his appointment, Kenyon-Slaney said he is "honoured to have been appointed and look forward to engaging in the debate about how the world's growing energy needs will be met, whilst also addressing the very real issue of climate change – it is a complex dilemma with no easy solutions".
Speaking on the current state of the market and global energy demand, he added that "the role of coal, as a cheap and plentiful source of fuel, will be critical in meeting the world's future energy demands".
"We as an industry have an interest in ensuring that coal can be extracted and consumed in a way that minimises any environmental impact. I believe we need to see ongoing investment in finding technical solutions to this issue, recognising the significant role fossil fuels will continue to play in the global energy mix."
He outlined his vision for the WCA under his leadership,stating "I see a key role foor the WCA in encouraging innovative solutions, and raising the efficiency of power stations and advancing carbon capture and storage are two fronts on which we will see real progress".
Milton Catelin, the WCA chief executive, added "it is an exciting time for coal, with the International Energy Agency forecasts predicting global coal demand is likely to increase by 50 per cent by 2035".
However Catelin went on to ackonwledge "there are global challenges we face – energy access, energy security, affordability of energy, and reducing emissions, all require us to work together. The coal industry needs to be united, constructive, and engaged in major policy discussions".
It comes as the Australian coal industry slows down, and costs bite.
Last week, within the space of 24 hours there were close to 250 coal mining jobs lost across the east coast, as Wollongong Coal, Glencore at its Tahmoor coal operations, Vale across its Integra Complex, BHP at its Illawarra Coal Appin mine all cut staff while five per cent of New Hope's staff will be let go.
At Wollongong Coal the miner also asked workers to sign new agreements to operate for $21 an hour.