By Nathan Richardson
February 8, 2018 - The value of Australia's coal exports hit a record high A$56.5 billion ($44.21 billion) in 2017, topping the previous record set in 2011 of A$46.7 billion, the Minerals Council of Australia said Wednesday.
"Historically coal has been Australia's biggest export earner and these trade numbers confirm its ongoing strength and significant contribution to the economy," MCA said in a statement.
The exports from the neighboring eastern states of New South Wales and Queensland comprised thermal and metallurgical coal and were up 35% year on year, it said.
Thermal coal exports in 2017 totaled 200 million mt, worth A$20.8 billion, while metallurgical coal exports totaled 172 million mt, worth A$35.7 billion, it said.
Most of the coal was exported to Asia, from established markets in North Asia to the fast growing economies of Southeast Asia and India, it said.
"Southeast Asia is emerging as a significant new market for Australian coal due to its recent investments in high efficiency, low emission coal-fired power plants significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Exports to this market were worth approximately A$2 billion in 2017," it said.
MCA pointed to high productivity within the Australian coal mining industry, proximity to major markets and strong regional economic and population growth as factors that "will continue to underpin coal exports in the long term."