An accurate understanding of thermal coal demand is important in the context of ongoing interest within Australia, our region and the world about the future of coal.
Recent analysis suggests that Australia’s world-leading thermal coal producers can benefit from strong future demand growth, especially in our region.
It is clear that the global seaborne thermal coal market has grown strongly in recent years. Global seaborne thermal coal volumes doubled between 2006 and 2019, from 500Mt (million tonnes) to 1,000Mt, growing in volume every year of that period except 2015. The market’s average growth was almost 40Mt per annum, or around eight times the average annual output of an Australian thermal coal mine.
With the drivers of recent growth still largely in play, Commodity Insights projects Asian thermal coal imports will grow by over 270Mt to more than a billion tonnes per annum over the next decade.
In the long term, government policy in relation to both energy sources and emissions reduction are important drivers of coal’s share of power generation and therefore import demand.
In this context, these forecasts will continue to be subject to changes in government policy, including emissions reduction measures to meet Paris Agreement targets.
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