Federal resources minister Keith Pitt said coal was worth $3.7 billion to the Australian economy in December alone as exporters looked to fill gaps in international markets and made the most of the increase in thermal coal prices.
"In the middle of the northern hemisphere winter, it's not surprising that thermal coal accounted for most of the increase to meet the demand from power utilities," he said.
"Coal sales to Vietnam and India were stronger, reaffirming the competitiveness of Australian coal, and its reputation for high quality in global markets."
Pitt said the trade figures reinforced the importance of coal as an Australian export commodity and its long-term resilience.
"The trade data also confirms that despite the global challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian resources and energy exports were valued at a phenomenal $272.5 billion in the 12 months to December," he said.