Australia’s coal exports will rise over the next five years on the back of growing demand from Asia, according to an international report.
The report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Tuesday found that demand for coal in India will rise by 4.6 percent by 2024 and by 5 percent in Indonesia and Vietnam.
As a result, Australia’s total coal production is expected to rise 1.4 percent annually from 409 million tons in 2018 to 444 million tons in 2024.
Coal exports were worth an estimated 67 billion Australian dollars (45.9 billion U.S. dollars) to the nation’s economy in financial year 2018-19, overtaking iron ore as the most valuable export.
The IEA found that while the reliance on coal as a power source will fall between 2018 and 2024, Australia’s share of the global export market will rise.
Australia’s Minister for Resources Matt Canavan said that the report proved the need for new coal mines in New South Wales and Queensland.
“We will need more than Adani,” he told News Corp Australia, referring to the Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.
The controversial Adani mine, which received final environmental approval in June, is expected to produce at least 10 million tons of thermal coal every year.
“That will almost certainly mean greater coal production in the Galilee Basin,” Canavan said of greater demand from Asia.
“This report gives some confidence in the forecast potential of the Galilee Basin,” he said.
The IEA report identified the prolonged approval process for the Carmichael coal mine, which was first proposed in 2010, as proof that “investment conditions for coal mines are becoming more challenging.”
The report was released only days after the leader of the Opposition Labor Party Anthony Albanese declared his support for Australia’s coal export industry.
He argued that international demand for coal would not change if Australia halted its exports, meaning a ban would not lower global emissions.
“The report confirms demand remains strong and Australia is well placed to meet it with our relatively clean and efficient coal,” Labor’s resources spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said.
Greens Member of Parliament (MP) Adam Bandt on Tuesday warned in response to the IEA report that “coal will kill us” and that increased greenhouse gas emissions from coal production would be a “death sentence for Australia.”
One of the country’s leading think tanks, the Australia Institute, on Wednesday called for the fossil fuel industry to contribute 1 Australian dollar (0.68 U.S. dollar) to a climate disaster levy for every ton of carbon emissions.
“The frequency and intensity of natural disasters such as bushfires and floods will keep increasing while we keep pumping more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” Mark Ogge, an adviser at the institute, told the Guardian Australia.
“Australia urgently needs a dedicated, independently administered fund to cope with the ever-increasing costs of these disasters,” the adviser said.
“A 1 Australian dollar per ton levy would have virtually no effect on energy prices or coal jobs, but would be a huge help to everyone being affected by the damage these activities are causing,” Ogge said.