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From development to production: Australian coal output in FY2012/13

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World Coal,

New official figures from the Australian Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics (BREE) for the July 2012 – June 2013 period (FY2012/13) illustrate well the move from mine development to production that has helped drive Australian coal exports despite record low prices.

During the period, Australian hard coal production grew by 9% on FY2011/12 as significant capacity expansions in the Hunter Valley and Gunnedah Basin in New South Wales (NSW) and Bowen Basin in Queensland came online.

Australian energy production by fuel type. Source: BREE.

Most notable, Rio Tinto/Mitsubishi’s Hunter Valley operations added 6 million tpa of new capacity, while Whitehaven Coal’s Narrabri mine (+4.5 million tpa), BHP Billiton’s Mt Authur mine (+4 million tpa) and Rio Tinto’s Bengalla mine (+1.5 million tpa) also contributed to raise coal output in NSW. In Queensland, Peabody Energy’s Burton mine added 2.5 million tpa.

These and other capacity expansions planned during the previous mining boom, coupled with take-or-pay contracts that require mining companies to pay for transportation whether or not they use it, have kept the global coal market in significant surplus, weighing down prices. Over the same time period, Australian coal exports grew 11% – growth that has continued this year (+6%), according to BREE’s latest Resources and Energy Quarterly.

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