Australian coal exports at record as miners ride out price downturn
QRC CEO Michael Roche said that the higher production in the January to September period confirmed the determination of the coal industry to ride out the current price downturn.
“Volume is replacing price, reflected in record export production,” he said.
Australia is the world’s largest exporter of high-quality metallurgical coal and the second largest exporter of thermal coal.
On Monday, BHP Billiton and its joint venture partner Mitsubishi officially opened the $3.4-billion Caval Ridge metallurgical coal mine in Queensland, which will add 5.5-million tons a year to Australia’s coal production.
“The official opening of Caval Ridge is a strong vote of confidence in the long-term future of Queensland’s leading export earner,” Roche said.
He added that the local coal industry had been “doing it tough” in recent times, but was optimistic that it would emerge from the current downturn stronger and more competitive than before.
However, concerns are mounting about China’s new import tariffs on coal, which come into effect this week, aimed at supporting domestic producers.
The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (Amec) said on Monday that the shock introduction of new tariffs would be another blow for the Australian coal industry.
“Last week China announced import tariffs of 3% for anthracite coal and coking coal and a 6% import tariff on noncoking coal. This is on top of the higher standards announced for ash and sulphur content for Chinese coal imports from January 1, 2015,” said Amec CEO Simon Bennison.
“At a time when industry is already facing extreme pressure on margins and coal prices at their lowest since October 2009, additional taxes will have a direct impact on Australian coal exporters.”
Bennison called on the Australian government to work swiftly to finalise negotiations of the free-trade agreement with China and abolish the tariffs on Australian coal exports.
BY: ESMARIE SWANEPOEL