Coal to retain demand

COAL will continue to dominate supply of Australia’s energy needs through to 2030, but its share in the energy mix is expected to decline, according to ABARE’s latest forecast.
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Courtesy QRC.

Angie Tomlinson

Overall, Australia’s primary energy consumption is projected to increase by 35% by 2030.

“The projected growth rate is lower than in the past 10 years, reflecting the long-term decline in the energy intensity of the Australian economy and energy-efficiency improvements, both of which can be expected to be reinforced by policy responses to climate change,” ABARE deputy executive director Paul Morris said.

The projections in the report take into account the potential effects of government policies both already in place and expected to happen.

“Coal is expected to continue to dominate Australia’s electricity generation mix but a shift to lower-emissions fuels is expected to result in a significant reduction in coal’s share and increases in gas and renewable energy,” Morris said.

“The outlook for coal is highly dependent on technological developments in relation to carbon capture and storage.”

Australia's energy production, excluding uranium, is projected to climb by more than 85% by 2030. Energy exports are projected to continue to grow strongly to meet rising global demand, particularly in emerging market economies in Asia.

ABARE said black coal exports would grow 2.4% per year, reaching 450 million tonnes in 2029-30.

The increase in exports would be supported by the expansion of infrastructure and mining capacity in New South Wales and Queensland.

In NSW, port capacity could increase by 100Mt per annum with upgrades to the Kooragang Island and Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group terminals.

In Queensland, the Abbot Point Coal Terminal could be expanded to handle 110Mtpa and the proposed Wiggins Island terminal near Gladstone has a potential capacity of 80Mtpa.

The increased port capacity in Queensland will be supported by upgrades to rail infrastructure, including the Goonyella to Abbot Point expansion project and the Surat Basin Rail.

NSW mines which will add to increased output include Xstrata’s 10.5Mtpa Mangoola mine, Felix Resources’ 20Mtpa Moolarben mine and Rio Tinto’s 8.5Mtpa Mount Pleasant project.

In Queensland, increased thermal coal production over the next 20 years could be supported by the development of the Galilee Basin with the massive Alpha, Kevin’s Corner and China First projects.

Major metallurgical coal projects in Queensland coming up include the 9Mtpa Belvedere mine, BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s 5.5Mtpa Caval Ridge operation and the 4Mtpa Daunia mine.