In 2006 Australia exported 237 million tonnes of coal, making it the world’s largest exporter of coal. This export was 25% of world coal exports, ahead of Indonesia (18%) and Russia (10%).
Australia also consumed over 70 million tonnes of coal domestically, of which approximately 85% is used in power generation.
Most coal, and particularly the lower value thermal coal, is burnt in pit-head power stations close to where it is mined. As a result, just over 15% of coal is traded across national boundaries.
According to the International Energy Agency, in 2011 the total international coal trade was 1.139 billion tonnes out of total global demand of approximately 7.384 billion tonnes. Of this thermal coal, which is overwhelmingly used in coal-fired power stations, accounted for just under three quarters. The remainder is metallurgical coal, which is overwhelmingly used in steel production. Of the traded coal, just over 90% is exported by ships with the remainder transported overland.
Key Words: Climate Change, fossil fuels
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