Minerals Council of Australia executive director of coal Greg Evans said the past 12 months continued to show positive market fundamentals for Australian coal, and the high productivity of the nation's coal companies, proximity to major markets and strong regional economic and population growth would continue to underpin coal exports over the long term.
"Coal has historically been Australia's biggest export earner and the latest forecasts confirm its ongoing resurgence and significant contribution to the Australian economy," he said.
"Coal exports are the largest export contributor in both NSW and Queensland, and are mostly sold into Asian markets - both established north Asian markets and the rapidly-growing economies of South East Asia and India."
The June 2018 Resources and Energy Quarterly shows coal is expected to earn $60.2 billion in 2017-18 - its highest-ever annual level - including 182 million tonnes or $37.5 billion worth of metallurgical coal and 200.5Mt or $22.7 billion of thermal coal.
Last month's release of expert analysis by Commodity Insights for the MCA and the COAL21 Fund forecast import demand for thermal coal alone across Asia could expand by up to 400Mt more than current levels by 2030.
"High-quality Australian coal supports both energy production and steel making," Evans said.
"The high-energy, low ash qualities of Australian coal ideally match the needs of the many high efficiency low emissions coal-fired power plants being built throughout Asia, and our high-grade metallurgical coals are among the best in the world for modern steel making.
"In addition to export revenue, coal continues to make a significant contribution to the Australian economy. It provides 75% of generation in the National Electricity Market, more than 51,000 direct jobs and $6 billion in state royalties annually to pay for police, nurses, teachers and other vital services and infrastructure."
Evans said coal was a cornerstone Australian industry and governments across Australia needed to ensure that sensible policy settings were in place to secure the economic, jobs and social dividend from the strong demand for coal in the region.