Jeebropilly Coal Mine which is operated by New Hope Coal. Photo Sarah Harvey / The Queensland Times
Jeebropilly Coal Mine which is operated by New Hope Coal. Photo Sarah Harvey / The Queensland Times Sarah Harvey

China’s coal cutback unlikely to affect Qld

CHINA may be cutting coal imports but it is unlikely to drastically affect Queensland mining companies, Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche says.

Reports that China was looking to cut back its imports to protect its domestic industry had not come to pass, Mr Roche said.

But even if it did, it would not have huge impact on Queensland mines. When it comes to thermal coal, Japan is the biggest importer for Queensland coal.

"About 6% of total coal exports was thermal coal to China," Mr Roche said.

"The Australian coal industry will manage to adapt to any decrease in demand in China."

In the 12 months to September last year, Queensland exported about 12 million tonnes of coal to China, compared to 14 million to Japan.

There have also been reports that China could cut back on using coal that is harmful to the environment in a bid to improve its air quality.

Mr Roche supported China's intention to use higher-quality coal that was not high in ash and sulphur.

But this coal came from Indonesia and other countries - not Australia, which was of high quality, Mr Roche said.

With an aging population, China's use of coal is expected to peak by about 2030, Mr Roche said.

He said there was another country that will need an increasing demand in coal imports in the coming decades and that would keep up the demand for Australian coal.

International energy agencies had predicted the coal demand in India would triple in the next few years.

"There are 1.3 billion people in the world who don't have access to electricity. And the cheapest most readily available source of fuel to generate that is coal.

"About 300 million people in India don't have access to electricity, which is why we have industry interest like Adani and GVK in the Galilee Basin."

He said India's young population almost certainly meant its demand for coal would increase for some decades.