Coal Sector in Australia – What is coal used for?
Coal Sector in Australia – What is coal used for? Coal is Australia’s most mined mineral. The effects that the mining of coal has on the economy are deep and expansive. Benefits from the success of mining coal have been one of the key contributors to the country’s consistent economic growth. On the other hand, the reproach from the declining coal industry has also been felt in various sectors of the country’s economy.
The mineral is mainly mined in three areas: Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. It comes in two forms: bituminous coal which is of high quality and is also called black coal and lignite coal, considered of low quality and also known as brown coal. Queensland and New South Wales produce black coal while brown coal reserves are found in Victoria and South Australia.
Jobs and Economy – Coal Sector in Australia – What is coal used for?
In the 2013 fiscal year, 430.9 million tons of coal were mined. This number ranks it a fifth largest producer of coal in the world. Out of the amount extracted, 375.1 million tons were exported. This translated to 73 percent of the fuel. Primarily, Australia uses her coal reserves to produce electricity for her various industries and residential applications. A large part of the coal is exported, with the biggest share of this export going to Japan.
The coal sector gathers the second most amount of revenue from exports for Australia. Also, the energy produced from coal contributes to 79 percent of the country’s electricity. In 2008-2009, coal contributed $55 billion to Australia’s revenue from exports. The coal sector also caused the employment of 140,000 Australians, with 40,000 jobs being directly created and 100,000 being indirectly created. Furthermore, the Australian government was able to pay various coal-mining state governments huge amounts through royalties. In Queensland, for example, the state government was awarded $3.1 billion. This translated to the creation of more jobs and business opportunities for the people, improved infrastructure and the development of social amenities such as schools and hospitals.
Price fluctuations – Coal Sector in Australia – What is coal used for?
Despite these numerous advantages brought on by the coal sector, not all is as rosy as it seems. Recently, the coal mining industry has been under depression. Prices have catastrophically dropped, and the government has been burned for leaning too heavily towards this industry. In the 2015-2016 results of the coal mining industry, Australia’s top coal miners were $4 billion in debt. The decline had primarily alluded to the decrease in demand for coal with China’s infrastructural boom slowing down.
Additionally, the coal sector has received a lot of criticism from environmentalists. This was because the burning of coal contributes to increased carbon (IV) oxide emissions. With Australia ranked as one of the top countries to suffer most of the wrath of climate change, more carbon (IV) oxide emissions is certainly not something Australians want on their plate. Also, some coal mining companies ignore their responsibility of rehabilitating land after the mining process is complete. This ignorance leaves large tracts of derelict land that pose a threat to the communities living around them.
Coals Decline – Coal Sector in Australia – What is coal used for?
Despite the decline in the coal sector’s markets over recent years, there is renewed hope for Australia’s coal markets. This comes as a result of new reports detailing large reserves of coal seam gas within the country. Furthermore, the demand for Australia’s coal from Asia is predicted to triple by 2035. New studies have also shown increased discoveries in inferred coal resources, which are now almost twice the economically demonstrated support.
So, what next for coal and what has the Australian government done about it?
The coal sector requires improvement so has to be environmentally-friendly. Despite its numerous benefits, effects of climate change such as a rising sea level could trigger flooding in Australia. Flooding in Queensland has previously been given as one of the main reasons for decreased mining outputs in Australia within the recent past. With effects such as these, the government is currently funding a $100 million research on “clean coal” and carbon sequestration which will reduce overall carbon emissions in the country.
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