By Dan Murtaugh
November 16, 2021 - Coal mining chief executives said the fuel they produce is far from being consigned to history, regardless of stricter global climate action agreed at the COP26 summit last week.
Demand remains robust in Asia and has picked up in Europe and North America as well this winter, executives speaking at the Financial Times Commodities Asia Summit said in a panel discussion. U.S. coal prices surged to the highest in more than 12 years on Monday while rates in Asia reached record highs in October.
“Coal is here to stay for some period of time,” said Ernie Thrasher, CEO at U.S. miner Xcoal Energy & Resources LLC. “It will be two to three decades before there’s a dramatic change in coal’s place in the energy space.”
COP26 President Alok Sharma said his goal at the summit was to “consign coal to history.” While delegates agreed to phase down use of the fuel, the final language of the agreement wasn’t as ardent as many wanted.
The weaker language on coal reflects that the transition toward cleaner energy will require more balance than previously observed, said Paul Flynn, CEO at Australian miner Whitehaven Coal Ltd.
“In the Asian region, coal remains very important,” he said. “Everyone is at different stages of development. The recognition of that complexity is one of the things that came out of Glasgow.”