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Infrastructure development needed to meet future coal exports

Posted: 13 October 2006

Significant development in coal supply infrastructure capacity is required in order for Australia to meet its full coal export potential over the period to 2025, according to a new ABARE report.

The report, Australian Coal Exports: Outlook to 2025 and the Role of Infrastructure, was released by Ms Karen Schneider, acting Executive Director of ABARE.

"Over the period 2005 to 2025, global black coal consumption is projected to increase by 2.1 per cent a year to reach 7.6 billion tonnes. Based on this trend, world consumption of coal would be 2.6 billion tonnes higher in 2025 than it was in 2005," Ms Schneider said. 

The projected increase in global coal consumption provides an opportunity for strong growth in Australia’s coal exports, particularly as much of this growth is projected to occur in the Asia Pacific region. 

However, the ability of Australian coal exporters to respond is contingent on the development of new mines and supporting rail and port infrastructure.

In the report a reference case projection of Australia’s export potential is developed and two alternative scenarios are examined.

In the reference case, Australia’s coal exports are projected to reach 394 million tonnes by 2025, representing a rise in exports of 161 million tonnes from 2005 levels. 

In the high export growth scenario it is projected that exports could be as high as 435 million tonnes in 2025.

Conversely, in the low export growth scenario coal exports could be 353 million tonnes in 2025. 

While the report indicates that there are sufficient coal mine and infrastructure developments proposed to supply Australia’s future coal exports, many of these planned projects are at a very early stage of development.

Importantly, for Australia’s coal export potential to be realised, particularly in the high growth scenario, many of these less advanced infrastructure projects would need to proceed.

"Some projects are critical for avoiding an infrastructure shortfall in some of Australia’s most important coal supply chains.

"For example, the capacity of the coal transport chain in the Central Bowen region in Queensland could be constrained by the track over Black Mountain shortly after 2012, and by the port at Hay Point by around 2020, unless alternative port infrastructure capacity becomes available," said Ms Schneider. 



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