Queensland coal industry continues to grow

NEWLY released statistics published in the 49th Queensland Coal Industry Review, 1999-2000, show continued expansion of the coal industry and strong growth in underground coal production.

Staff Reporter

During the 1999-2000 year, Queensland mines produced a record 124.3 million tonnes of saleable coal, up 10.4%. Raw coal production rose 8.3% to 155.72Mt. Production from the state’s 30 open-cut mines increased by 1.2% to 117.54Mt while the 13 underground mines produced 38.18Mt, up 37.9%.

Domestic coal sales in Queensland were down slightly at 19.3 Mt of which 16.7mt (or 87%) were purchased for electricity generation.

Coal exports during the period increased to 104.8Mt, up 11.3Mt (12%) on the previous year. Despite the higher tonnages, lower coal prices cut revenues by $60 million.

Some 38.7% of Queensland coal (40.5Mt) was bought by Japan, Queensland’s biggest customer. Japan took 24.2Mt of coking coal and 16.31Mt of thermal coal in 1999-2000, the total up 19.4% on the previous year.

Queensland’s second largest coal customer, Korea, took 6.71Mt of coking coal and 4.33 Mt of thermal, slightly down on the previous year. Third largest customer, India, purchased 9.37Mt of coking coal and 66,000t of thermal. The European market took almost 25% of Queensland’s coal exports, or 26Mt.

Although exports were up by 11.27 Mt, lower prices dragged down the total FOB value of the state’s exports by $60 million from $5.398 million in 1998-1999 to $5.338 million in 1999-2000.

Employment figures for the Queensland coal industry fell by nearly 7% or 589 people from 8 561 at June 1999 to 7 972 in June 2000. Open-cut employees numbered 5 406 (a reduction of 727) while underground numbers increased from 2 428 to 2 566.

Productivity increased by 11.6% from 12,982 tonnes per annum to 14,483tpa in 1999-2000. While the mature open-cut operations increased by only 4.8%, or 749 tonnes per person, underground operations increased by around 62%, or 3 944 tonnes per person.