Growth in key Asian markets for high-quality Australian coal will continue to underpin our coal exports with increasing demand forecast over the medium term, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The IEA’s Coal 2017 Report – which predicts demand to 2022 – says higher consumption in India, South-East Asia and other Asian countries (excluding China) is expected to more than offset lower demand in North America and Europe and flat demand from China.
The report shows Australia is expected to remain the largest coal exporter in the world, with a clear lead in metallurgical coal and an increasing share of thermal coal exports.
Export growth is attributed to Australia being an efficient coal producer that is well-positioned to deliver to growing Asian markets.
Australia’s high-quality coal is also in demand because of its suitability for new generation High Efficiency, Low Emissions (HELE) coal-fired power plants and steel making facilities located in Asia.
Australia is forecast to export 198 million tonnes coal equivalent (Mtce) of metallurgical coal in 2022, dominating the market with a trading share of 72 per cent. Thermal coal exports are projected to increase by an average of one per cent annually, to 187 Mtce by 2022 (from 177 Mtce in 2016).
Out to 2040, the IEA has forecast Australia’s share of the international coal trade is expected to increase from 34 per cent in 2016 to 42 per cent.
Global coal demand is forecast to increase 3.2 per cent to 5,534 Mtce between now and 2022.
Australia’s coal export markets of Japan, Korea and Taiwan remain stable, with thermal coal demand driven by existing and planned new modern coal-fired generation capacity.
The biggest absolute demand growth comes from India, where demand is expected to increase by 135 Mtce over the next four years because of growth in coal-fired generation in parallel with expected growth in renewable energy.
With imports from Indonesia expected to decrease, the Indian market still represents a growing opportunity for high-quality Australian coal.
ASEAN and other developing countries – Indonesia, Pakistan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines – are projected to have the strongest relative demand growth at 5.9 per cent a year, again driven by increased coal-fired generation.
These growing markets are already significant for Australian coal exporters, with trade to the South-East Asian markets of Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines valued at $1.7 billion in 2016-17.