There are a number of established and emerging players ready to take the mantle of global coal export leader.
The International Energy Agency's 2018 World Energy Outlook forecasts Australia could boost its coal exports by 22% between 2017 and 2040. Reflecting expected coal power plant retirements in Australia, total coal production in Australia is expected to grow by a more modest 14%.
"[The Australian coal industry] benefits from a large high quality resource base - in particular low cost/high quality coking coal - and from a formidable mining industry which has successfully cut costs in recent years," the WEO report says.
"Australia … continues to be well-positioned to serve coal import needs in the Pacific Basin."
Traditionally, our friends over the Torres Strait, Indonesia, have been our main challenger. However, since the Indonesian government decided more of its coal should be used at home, other players are keen to take opportunities.
That does not mean we should discount Indonesia entirely.
The WEO assumes Indonesian coal exports will retreat by more than 40% by 2040 as more of its thermal coal is diverted to domestic power generation.
The report cautions that "Indonesian exporters have shown they can mobilise production and exports rapidly when the market and price environments are favourable".
Queensland law firm McCullough Robertson said China was a net exporter of coal as recently as in the early 2000s.
The WEO cautions that as domestic coal demand falls in China, it should not be assumed that the coal mining sector in China will restructure at the same pace.
McCullough Robertson said: "In that scenario, China could well again become a net exporter of coal as the sector adjusts to lower domestic coal demand, thereby ‘have far reaching implications for coal exporters'."
Australia will not have it all its own way in the traded coal sector with coal powerhouses such as Mongolia and Russia breathing down our necks.
"Russia, for example, is seen as having the potential to expand its market share," McCullough Robertson says.
"By the 2030s, Russia is expected to overtake Indonesia as the second largest coal exporter.
"Russia has advantages such as some of the lowest mining costs, depreciation of the rouble and investment into new mines and port infrastructure. The Russian coal sector has attracted investment from Japan and India."
Hogsback reckons if Australia drops the ball on coal exports there will be plenty of new players out there ready to take advantage of our lack of form and the consequences to our economy could be enormous.