Australia’s export of coal has been booming in recent years.
But a new report from the Australian Institute of Labor and Employment (AILA) says the industry has been too reliant on cheap coal to pay for itself and it has the potential to have a big impact on the economy.
Key points:The report says coal exports are “not a reliable source of revenue” and “have been a drain on the Australian economy”The report recommends that the government consider whether the coal industry can support itself and its workersThe report argues coal export prices should be set to a level that reflects the “true costs of coal”.
“We can’t keep selling coal if we don’t know what the true cost is,” said the report’s author, economist Alistair Cooke.
The report comes as a new coal export study from AILA predicts that the industry will continue to grow over the next 20 years, with the biggest potential for export to China and South Africa.
The study suggests that coal exports of up to 100 million tonnes a year could be “viable” for Australia if the industry is able to get cheaper than other countries.
“If the coal sector can achieve its long-term growth potential, the industry can potentially generate significant revenue streams for the Australian government,” the report says.
“The potential is there, it’s just a question of getting there.”‘
It’s just not the kind of thing you’d expect to see in the US’The report, “Coal Nation: A Global Perspective on Coal”, says that over the past decade, Australia has exported a record 762 million tonnes of coal.
That compares with the previous high of 662 million in 2009.
The analysis says the current boom in coal export is driven by a combination of a surge in the cost of coal and the increase in demand from China and Africa.
“There’s no doubt that Australia is in the midst of an unprecedented expansion in coal demand,” the AILA report says, adding that “coal is the single largest export market for the world”.
“But the fact is, it is the case that the price of coal is not the reliable source, in large part, of revenue for Australia.”
In the face of this, the coal export industry has become increasingly reliant on cheaper coal to support its operations, which has been a drag on the economic recovery of the Australian coal sector,” it says.
The AILA study says that a significant proportion of the growth in coal exports has been in Asia, and that this has led to a “greater reliance on coal in export markets”.”
The increased reliance on cheaper commodity prices has meant that the demand for coal in Australia has grown by over 60 per cent in the past 15 years,” the study says.
This has led coal companies to increasingly rely on China and other developing countries, particularly South Africa, as a supplier of coal, according to the AILA.
The organisation’s report also suggests that Australia has become dependent on cheap energy from the US, which is causing the coal-based economy to become less competitive.”
As coal prices continue to fall, there is little hope for coal exporters, especially the Chinese, to continue to make a profit and compete for overseas markets,” the article says.
Topics:energy-and-utilities,coal,coalition-and–mining,energy,economics-and -energy-related,government-and-“parties”,coal-industry,economy,government,united-states,sydney-2000,qld,australiaFirst posted November 30, 2020 17:04:08Contact Ian FentonMore stories from Queensland