Coal: building Australia's future

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About the Minerals Council of Australia

The MCA is the leading advocate for Australia's world class minerals industry, promoting and enhancing sustainability, profitability and competitiveness. The MCA represents a world-leading minerals sector that is dynamic, diverse, sustainable and valued by all Australians. Read more.

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Coal is a cornerstone Australian industry built on the efforts of hard working Australians with the majority in regional areas.

It has a strong future which can meet the requirements of a modern economy.

The industry employed around 50,000 workers in 2019 with another 120,000 indirect jobs supported by the coal industry.

In 2018-19 Australia exported 210 Mt of thermal (energy) coal worth $25.9 billion and 184 Mt of metallurgical (steel-making) coal worth $43.6 billion.

The Australian coal industry paid over $6 billion in royalties in 2018-19, including:

  • Queensland - $4.4 billion
  • New South Wales - $1.9 billion
  • Victoria - $69 million

The Australian economy continues to rely on coal as a source of affordable, reliable electricity. For example, coal supplied 68.6 per cent of electricity to the National Electricity Market in 2019, gas 9.1 per cent, hydro 6.7 per cent and variable renewable energy (wind, solar farms and solar PV) 15.9 per cent. Updated information is available from the University of Melbourne’s OPEN NEM widget.

Australian coal is in demand for energy, cement and steel making.

Its high-energy, low ash characteristics ideally match the requirements for modern, high efficiency coal-fired power plants being built throughout Asia, while our high grade metallurgical coals are amongst the best in the world for modern steel making.

Australian coal can also reduce emissions when compared to lower-quality coal from other exporters.

Supplier reliability, proximity to key markets and good infrastructure availability puts Australia in a strong position to take advantage of growing demand from existing customers such as Japan, China, India, Taiwan, South Korea and Europe as well as newer buyers such as Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Coal mining in Australia is a sophisticated and hi-tech activity.

Continuous improvements in mining technology, occupational health and safety and environmental performance have ensured that Australia is an efficient and reliable producer of high-quality thermal and metallurgical coals for the international market.