NEWCASTLE, Australia — Coal exports out of this resource-rich nation brought in record-high revenue last year, according to government data released this month, Axios' Amy Harder reports.
The big picture: As concerns about climate change grow, coal is considered on its way out. But for many growing economies in Southeast Asia who are Australia’s biggest coal customers, it’s often seen as the preferred, cheapest electricity option.
Driving the news: Coal exports brought in a record A$66 billion in export value last year, according to data from the government’s Bureau of Statistics released earlier this month.
- The data also shows that coal surpassed iron ore to become the biggest export in Australia, one of the world’s largest exporters of fossil fuels and other resources.
The intrigue: Earlier this week, I visited coal export terminals in Newcastle, a couple hours’ drive north of Sydney. The collective volume of approximately 160 million tons a year makes the area the single biggest port for coal exports in the world, according to executives at the Port Waratah Coal Services, which runs the largest operation on site here.
- The expansive terminal sits along the banks of the Pacific Ocean along Australia’s Southeast coast and loads 10,000 tons of coal an hour onto ships.
- The company receives 35 to 40 trains of coal a day from the nearby Hunter Valley, which is known for its coal mines and wineries.
- About 1,300 ships a year come through Port Waratah’s operations, sending the coal mostly to Southeast Asian countries, including Japan and South Korea.
Between the lines: The type of coal exported from Newcastle is considered a cleaner type compared to the world’s other big coal exporter, nearby Indonesia. This is why Australia’s coal producers think they can thrive in a world addressing climate change.