The facts on Australian coal production

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has thrown his support behind coal mining, arguing coal is ‘good for humanity’. Dan Peled/AAP

Talk of the demise of Australian coal production is largely political, not economic.

The problem for the countries that presently mine and burn coal is that there are currently few low cost alternatives. Most countries in the world today are focused on trying to ensure their citizens have access to electrical power. This is difficult without low cost base load electricity production and at present, coal provides an affordable solution.

As at the end of 2012 there were 75 countries producing coal. These countries ranged from Nepal with production of 17,640 short tons in 2012, through to China with production of 4.017 billion tonnes in the same year.

It’s worth noting that Australia was ranked 5th (after China, the United States, India and Indonesia) with coal production of 463 million tonnes in 2012. While these rankings move around a little over time there is no doubt Australia is still a major player in the market for coal.

Regional coal production

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)