Coal in Australia

Coal in Australia
Australian Energy resources and major export ports
Coal reserves in BTUs as of 2009

Coal in Australia is mined primarily in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. It is used to generate electricity and 75% of the coal mined in Australia is exported, mostly to eastern Asia. In 2000/01, 258.5 million tonnes of coal was mined, and 193.6 million tonnes exported. Coal also provides about 85% of Australia's electricity production.[1] In fiscal year 2008/09, 487 million tonnes of coal was mined, and 261 million tonnes exported.[2] Australia is the world's leading coal exporter.[3]

Coal mining in Australia has been the subject of criticism from members of the environmental movement,[4][5] because burning coal releases carbon dioxide, which is generally believed to contribute to climate change, global warming, sea level rise and the effects of global warming on Australia.[6] [7] The burning of coal produces 42.1% of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, not counting export coal, based on 2004 GHG inventory. [8]

Both Greenpeace Australia Pacific (Energy [R]evolution [9] and Beyond Zero Emissions (Zero Carbon Australia 2020 [10] have produced reports claiming a transition can be made to renewable energy and Greenpeace has called for a just transition for coal based communities, [11] but others argue at present there is no strong evidence of a viable alternative for the vast majority of Australia's electricity generation, or for the significant economic and social benefits coal mining delivers to regional communities.[1][12] Coal Seam Gas, methane-based gas associated with deposits of coal has historically been flared, however over the past 10 years has been recovered and used to generate further electricity.[13][14][15]

The proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme which followed the draft report of the Garnaut Climate Change Review would put a price on carbon through a reducing cap and trade emissions trading scheme and this would be likely to impact most heavily on brown coal usage within Australia (particularly in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria) for power generation.


Forms of coal

Two forms of coal are mined in Australia, depending on the region: high-quality black coal and lower-quality brown coal.

Black coal is found in Queensland and New South Wales, and is used for both domestic power generation and for export overseas. It is generally mined underground before being transported by rail to power stations, or export shipping terminals. Black coal was also once exported to other Australian states for power generation and industrial boilers.

Brown coal is found in Victoria and South Australia, and is of lower quality due a higher ash and water content. As a result Victoria adopted German power station and briquette technology in the 1920s to utilise the brown coal reserves of the Latrobe Valley. Today there are three open cut brown coal mines in Victoria used for baseload power generation.

Major mines

The following table lists the major Australian Coal mines.[16][17]

Mine State Location Ultimate Owner Lat & Long Type of Coal Million Tons Mined PA Million Tons Exported PA Major Buyers Major Method
Anglesea VIC Anglesea Alcoa of Australia 38°23′42″S 144°09′58″E / 38.395°S 144.166°E / -38.395; 144.166 (Anglesea) Lignite ? nil Anglesea Power Station Open Cut
Beltana NSW Singleton Xstrata 32°39′22″S 151°07′16″E / 32.656°S 151.121°E / -32.656; 151.121 (Beltana) Thermal 7.6 ? ? Underground
Bengalla NSW Muswellbrook Coal and Allied 32°19′24″S 150°51′29″E / 32.3234°S 150.8581°E / -32.3234; 150.8581 (Bengalla) Thermal ? ? ? Open Cut
Callide QLD Callide (Biloela) Anglo American [2] 24°19′38″S 150°37′04″E / 24.327292°S 150.617906°E / -24.327292; 150.617906 (Callide) Thermal ? ? ? Open Cut
Capcoal QLD Middlemount Anglo American 22°57′50″S 148°33′00″E / 22.964°S 148.55006°E / -22.964; 148.55006 (Capcoal) Hard Coking Coal & PCI 7 ? ? Open Cut & Underground
Dawson QLD Dawson (Moura) Anglo Coal 24°17′46″S 151°06′47″E / 24.296°S 151.113°E / -24.296; 151.113 (Dawson) Soft Coking & Thermal 7 ? ? Open Cut
Drayton NSW Hunter Valley Anglo Coal 32°20′46″S 150°54′40″E / 32.346°S 150.911°E / -32.346; 150.911 (Drayton) Soft Coking & Thermal 7 ? ? Open Cut
Broadmeadows QLD Moranbah BMA 21°44′35″S 147°58′15″E / 21.743°S 147.97077°E / -21.743; 147.97077 (Broadmeadows) Hard Coking Coal 4 ? ? Underground
Blackwater QLD Duringa BMA 23°42′36″S 147°33′00″E / 23.710°S 147.55006°E / -23.710; 147.55006 (Blackwater) Thermal/Coking 13 ? ? Open Cut
Blair Athol [3] QLD Clermont Rio Tinto 22°41′28″S 147°31′59″E / 22.691°S 147.5331°E / -22.691; 147.5331 (Blair Athol) Thermal 12 ? ? Open Cut
Burton QLD Nebo Peabody Energy Australia 21°34′12″S 148°10′59″E / 21.570°S 148.183°E / -21.570; 148.183 (Burton) Thermal/Coking 4 ? ? Open Cut
Callide QLD Biloela Anglo American 24°19′01″S 150°37′23″E / 24.317°S 150.623°E / -24.317; 150.623 (Callide) ? 4 ? ? Open Cut
Collinsville QLD Collinsville Xtrata 20°29′31″S 147°47′02″E / 20.492°S 147.784°E / -20.492; 147.784 (Collinsville) Thermal/Coking 5 ? ? Open Cut
Coppabella QLD Coppabella Macarthur Coal 21°50′56″S 148°25′59″E / 21.849°S 148.433°E / -21.849; 148.433 (Coppabella) ? 7 ? ? Open Cut
Curragh QLD Blackwater Wesfarmers 23°28′30″S 148°51′43″E / 23.475°S 148.862°E / -23.475; 148.862 (Curragh) Thermal/Coking 7 ? ? Open Cut
Goonyella/Riverside QLD Moranbah BMA 21°43′48″S 147°58′44″E / 21.730°S 147.979°E / -21.730; 147.979 (Goonyella/Riverside) Hard Coking Coal 11 ? ? Open Cut/Underground
Griffin Coal WA Collie Ric Stowe 33°21′32″S 116°09′11″E / 33.359°S 116.153°E / -33.359; 116.153 (Griffin) Bitumous 5 nil Bluewaters Power, Synergy Power Open Cut
Hail Creek Qld Nebo Rio Tinto Coal Australia (RTCA) 21°29′06″S 148°22′05″E / 21.485°S 148.368°E / -21.485; 148.368 (Hail Creek) Hard Coking Coal 4.5 all ? Open Cut
Leigh Creek SA Leigh Creek NRG Flinders 30°30′11″S 138°25′26″E / 30.503°S 138.42394°E / -30.503; 138.42394 (Leigh Creek) Lignite ? ? Port Augusta Power Stations Open Cut
Loy Lang VIC Traralgon Loy Yang Power 38°15′07″S 146°34′26″E / 38.252°S 146.574°E / -38.252; 146.574 (Loy Lang) Lignite ? nil Loy Yang Power Station Open Cut
Moorvale QLD Moranbah Macarthur Coal 21°59′24″S 148°21′14″E / 21.990°S 148.354°E / -21.990; 148.354 (Moorvale) Thermal/PCI ? ? ? Open Cut
Mount Arthur Coal (MAC) NSW Muswellbrook BHP Billiton 32°20′01″S 151°52′36″E / 32.3335°S 151.87667°E / -32.3335; 151.87667 (Mount Arthur) Thermal 15 12 ? Open Cut
Mount Thorley Warkworth (MTW) NSW Singleton Coal & Allied 32°37′30″S 151°05′24″E / 32.625°S 151.090°E / -32.625; 151.090 (Mount Thorley) Thermal/Coking ? ? ? Open Cut
Moranbah North QLD Moranbah Anglo American 21°52′26″S 147°57′50″E / 21.874°S 147.964°E / -21.874; 147.964 (Moranbah North) Hard Coking Coal 4.5 ? ? Underground
Morwell VIC Morwell International Power 38°16′22″S 146°23′30″E / 38.272705°S 146.391662°E / -38.272705; 146.391662 (Morwell) Lignite 20 nil Hazelwood Power Station,
Energy Brix
Open Cut
Norwich Park QLD Dysart BMA 22°46′48″S 148°28′48″E / 22.78°S 148.480°E / -22.78; 148.480 (Norwich Park) Soft Coking Coal 6 all ? Open Cut
Newlands QLD Glenden Xstrata 21°12′43″S 147°53′24″E / 21.212°S 147.890°E / -21.212; 147.890 (Newlands) Thermal/Coking 12 ? ? Open Cut & Underground
Peak Downs QLD Moranbah BMA 22°14′13″S 148°00′43″E / 22.237°S 148.012°E / -22.237; 148.012 (Peak Downs) Hard Coking Coal 13 all ? Open Cut
Saraji QLD Dysart BMA 22°21′43″S 148°17′24″E / 22.362°S 148.290°E / -22.362; 148.290 (Saraji) Hard Coking Coal 7.5 all ? Open Cut
Ulan NSW Ulan via Mudgee Xstrata 32°14′38″S 149°44′56″E / 32.244°S 149.749°E / -32.244; 149.749 (Ulan) Thermal 5 ? ? Open Cut & Underground
Wesfarmers Premier Coal WA Collie Wesfarmers 33°24′40″S 116°14′20″E / 33.411°S 116.239°E / -33.411; 116.239 (Wesfarmers) Bitumous 3.5 nil Synergy Power Open Cut
Yallourn VIC Yallourn TRUenergy 38°10′42″S 146°20′21″E / 38.1784°S 146.3391°E / -38.1784; 146.3391 (Yallourn) Lignite ? nil Yallourn Power Station Open Cut
Bulga Coal NSW Singleton Oakbridge Group (Managed by Xstrata Coal) 32°39′S 151°04′E / 32.65°S 151.07°E / -32.65; 151.07 (Bulga) Thermal/Coking 10.8 All Japan, Nippon Steal, Nippon Oil Open Cut

Major export markets for Australian coal

Major Export Markets For Australian Coal (2008–2009)[18]
Country/Area Million Tons Coking Million Tons Steaming Million Tons Total Rank % of exports
Japan 43.3 61.5 104.8 1 39.8
Korea (ROK) 15.1 27.9 43.1 2 16.3
Taiwan 6.1 20.0 26.1 3 9.9
China 15.5 9.5 25.0 4 9.5
India 23.8 0.9 24.7 5 9.4
Europe 18.6 2.3 20.9 6 7.9

Major coal export ports

Major Australian Coal Export Ports
Port State Million Tons
Million Tons
Newcastle[19] NSW 92.8 91.4
Hay Point[20] QLD 82.4 80.4
Gladstone[20] QLD 56.2 54.1
Abbot Point[20] QLD 14.4 12.5
Port Kembla[21] NSW 13.7 13.3
Brisbane[20] QLD 6.3 5.5

Major coal mining companies

Major Australian Coal Mining Companies)[22]
Company Main Mines Total Coal Mined (Million Tons)
Anglo American Metallurgical Coal Ltd a. Anglo Coal Callide Mine, Queensland b. Anglo Coal Capcoal Mine Via Middlemount Middlemount QLD c. Anglo Coal Dartbrook Mine PO Box 517 Muswellbrook NSW 2333 d. Anglo Coal Drayton Mine PMB 9 Muswellbrook NSW e. Anglo Coal Foxleigh Mine PO Box 21 Middlemount QLD f. Anglo Coal Grasstree Mine Via Middlemount Private Mail Bag Middlemount QLD g. Anglo Coal Moranbah North Mine PO Box 172 Moranbah QLD h Dawson mine, one of Queensland’s leading export coal operations, is owned by the Moura Joint Venture, comprising Anglo Coal Australia Pty Ltd (51 %) and Mitsui Coal Holdings Pty Ltd (49 %) 32.0
Bloomfield Collieries Pty Ltd Bloomfield at East Maitland and Rix’s Creek at Singleton 0.88
BHP Billiton - Hunter Valley Energy Coal Mount Arthur Coal, Muswellbrook, Hunter Valley NSW[23] 15.0 (FY2009 est.)
BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) Coal Operations Pty Ltd a. Blackwater b.Broadmeadow Mine c. Goonyella Riverside d. Gregory Crinum e. Peak Downs Mine f. Saraji Mine g. South Walker Creek Mine h. Poitrel Mine is situated south-east of the town of Moranbah i. Hay Point Coal Terminal, located 38 km south of Mackay 58.0
Centennial Coal Company Ltd Newstan, Awaba, Myuna, Mandalong, Mannering, Angus Place, Springvale, Charbon, Berrima, Clarence, Cooranbong (Closed), Munmorah (Closed) ?
Coalpac Pty Ltd Cullen Valley Mine located in the Western Coalfield of New South Wales, Australia 1.2
Cornwall Coal Company NE Tasmania 0.725
Donaldson Coal Pty Ltd Hunter Valley 2.5
Enhance Place Pty Ltd Colliery near Lithgow, NSW 0.2
Ensham Resources Pty Ltd Pits A,B,C & D either side of the Nogoa River - referred to as the ‘Ensham Project’ - and the ‘Yongala’ pit, which is located approximately 5 km to the north of the main Ensham operation 9.0
Felix Resources Limited a. Singleton in the Hunter Valley b. Central Queensland’s Bowen Basin c. Emerald in Queensland’s Bowen Basin d. The Moolarben coal project is a world class coal asset located 40 km east of Mudgee in the Upper Hunter Valley e.Harrybrandt exploration project, near Nebo in Queensland’s Bowen Basin 3.9
Foxleigh Joint Venture Central Queensland ?
Gloucester Coal Ltd Stratford and Duralie, both located in the Gloucester Geological Basin 1.9
Idemitsu Australia Resources Pty Ltd western Bowen Basin 8.0
BHPBilliton Illawarra Coal Appin, Westcliff & Dendrobium Collieries in the Illawarra and Wollondilly regions south of Sydney, New South Wales 8
Jellinbah Resources Pty Ltd Jellinbah East Mine in the Bowen Basin of central Queensland 4.0
Lithgow Coal Company Pty Ltd Cullen Valley Mine located in the Western Coalfield of New South Wales 1.0
Macarthur Coal Limited Queensland¡¯s Bowen Basin 5.5
Muswellbrook Coal Company Ltd a. Drayton Mine – is an open-cut coal mine operated by Anglo Coal (Drayton Management) Pty Ltd. It is located approximately 13 kilometres south east of Muswellbrook ?
New Hope Corporation Ltd Acland on the Darling Downs and at Rosewood near Ipswich 3.92
Peabody Pacific Pty Ltd a.Burton mine is located in the Bowen Basin b. North Goonyella underground and Eaglefield open-cut mines are located at the northern end of the Bowen Basin c. Millennium mine is located near the town of Moranbah in the Bowen Basin d. Wilkie Creek mine is located in the Surat Basin of south-east Queensland e. Wilpinjong mine is located 10 kilometres south-east of Ulan mine and 40 kilometres north-east of Mudgee f.Wambo is one of Peabody's largest operating mines and is located in the Hunter Valley g. Chain Valley is located in the Newcastle coalfield on the southern shore of Lake Macquarie h. Metropolitan is located in the Southern coalfields, about 50 kilometres south of Sydney. 22.0
Rio Tinto Coal Australia Pty Ltd Blair Athol, Hail Creek and Kestrel Mines and is currently constructing the Clermont Mine Project, all in Queensland and in New South Wales, Rio Tinto Coal Australia manages Coal & Allied's operations at Mount Thorley Warkworth, Hunter Valley Operations and Bengalla 5.8
Vale (a) Integra Coal, Hunter Valley, open cast and underground mines, 61.2% owned by Vale. (b) Carborough Downs Mine, Central Queensland, underground longwall mine owned 80% by Vale. (c) Isaac Plains Joint Venture, Central Queensland, open cast mine owned 50% by Vale. 8.0
Wesfarmers Coal Ltd a. Curragh mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin b. Premier Coal mine at Collie in Western Australia’s south west c. Bengalla mine in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales 2.157
Whitehaven Coal Mining Pty Ltd Gunnedah Region of New South Wales 1.0
Xstrata Coal Pty Ltd a. Westside, New South Wales, Australia b. West Wallsend, New South Wales Australia c. Bulga, New South Wales d. Beltana, New South Wales e. Narama, New South Wales f.Mangoola, Hunter Valley, New South Wales g.Mount Owen - The Mount Owen Complex consists of the Mount Owen, Ravensworth East and Glendell open cut coal mines h.Ravensworth, New South Wales i.Ulan Coal m. Baal Bone, New South Wales j. Cumnock, New South Wales k. Narama, New South Wales 29.3

Environmental impacts

The Australian community is understandably concerned about any mining activity that could place private or public property or valuable landscapes at risk.[citation needed] The coal industry claims however that extensive rehabilitation of areas mined helps to ensure that land capability, after coal mining, meets agreed and appropriate standards.[24]

Coal is the principal fossil fuel used in power generation not only in Australia but in many other countries. Links between coal mining, coal burning, and climate change are being discussed widely in Australia.[25][26]

On 27 November 2006 the NSW Land & Environment Court judge Justice Nicola Pain made the historic decision to set aside the Director-General's acceptance of the Environmental Assessment for the Anvil Hill coal mine, on the grounds that it did not include a comprehensive greenhouse gas assessment, even though the proposed mining of coal was for export. However, on 7 June 2007 the planning minister for NSW Frank Sartor reversed this decision and approved the mine, attaching a list of 80 conditions to the mines operation including conservation offsets.[27]

Clean coal technologies

The Federal Government has, as part of its pledge to mitigate global warming,[28] committed A$100 million to commission a climate change-fighting "clean coal" and carbon sequestration research institute to make Australia a leader in this emerging technology. Carbon sequestration technology is not expected to be commercially viable for at least 5 to 10 years, but the Federal Labor government believes it is a vital technology given Australia's reliance on coal-fired electricity.[29]

See also


  1. ^ a b "The Importance of Coal in the Modern World - Australia". Gladstone Centre for Clean Coal. Archived from the original on 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2007-03-17. 
  2. ^ "Australia Mineral Statistics 2009- June Quarter". Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
  3. ^ International Energy Agency. (2008-08-31) Coal Information 2008. Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development. ISBN 92-64-04241-5
  4. ^ NSW Greens coal policy:
  5. ^ Greens Queensland. 2010. Upper Hunter Valley coal mining shows dangers for Queensland. Tuesday 13 April. Media Release:
  6. ^ CSIRO's Climate Change Impacts on Australia and the Benefits of Early Action to Reduce Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions"
  7. ^
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ NSW Department of Planning. 2008. Impacts of underground coal mining on natural features in the Southern Coalfield: strategic review. State of New South Wales:
  13. ^ GE's ecomagination™ Certified Jenbacher Power Plant Commissioned at Australian Coal Mine to Help Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions,, Accessed 14.04.2011
  14. ^ Queensland Government Inaugurates Alternative Energy Plant Powered by GE's Jenbacher Waste Coal Mine Gas Engines,, Accessed 11.05.2011
  15. ^ Clarke Generates Interest at Blackwater, Clarke Energy article in, Accessed 11.05.2011
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b c d
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ Reducing the Environmental Impacts of Coal Mining
  25. ^ Australian coal mine blocked over climate impact
  26. ^ Climate concerns fuel coal mine opposition campaign
  27. ^ NSW Govt approves Anvil Hill coal mine
  28. ^
  29. ^ .,25197,24368848-2702,00.html. [dead link]

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