In my post last Tuesday, PM puts China’s Aussie thermal coal ban in perspective, I noted how China’s Aussie coal ban would be much more concerning if it also applied to coking coal, which is more valuable per tonne and which Queensland produces more of than thermal coal. The Queensland Government Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy publishes some great statistics on the state’s coal industry. The quarterly exports data provides a fascinating breakdown of exports by coal type by country. We see that Queensland exports coal to a diverse range of economies, with Japan and India very important export markets along with China (see chart below). The “Other” grouping in the chart below includes 36 countries, in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and South America.
The dominance of coking (a.k.a. metallurgical) coal is even more pronounced if we look at the dollar values of exports (see chart below). Note how much the value of coal exports can fluctuate from year-to-year due to changes in coal prices, which can be substantial.
Overall, the data suggest China’s ban on our thermal coal will be costly, particularly if we can’t find alternative customers, but it shouldn’t be devastating.
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