The previous record was $46.7 billion in 2011.
Coal was Australia’s second largest export in 2017 with iron ore at $63.3 billion in the same period.
Historically coal has been Australia’s largest export earner.
According to Minerals Council of Australia executive director of coal Greg Evans, these trade numbers confirm its ongoing strength and significant contribution to the economy.
“Coal exports are from both New South Wales and Queensland and comprise thermal coal for power generation and metallurgical coal for steel making,” he said.
“In 2017 thermal coal exports were 200 million tonnes worth $20.8 billion while metallurgical coal exports were 172Mt with a value of $35.7 billion.
“Overwhelmingly the destination of coal exports continues to be Asia, spanning from established north Asian markets to the fast growing economies of South East Asia and India.”
South East Asia is emerging as a significant new market for Australian coal due to its recent investments in high efficiency, low emission coal-fired power plants significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Exports to this market were worth approximately $2 billion in 2017.
“The last 12 months continue to show the market fundamentals for Australian coal are positive,” Evans said.
“The high productivity of the Australian coal mining industry, proximity to major markets and strong regional economic and population growth will continue to underpin coal exports in the long term.
“The inherent quality of Australian coal is a benefit for both energy and steel making where high energy, low ash characteristics ideally match the requirements for HELE coal-fired power plants being built throughout Asia while 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 the domestic economy including providing 75% of generation in the National Electricity Market, more than 51,000 direct jobs and $5 billion in royalties annually.
“Coal is a cornerstone Australian industry built on the efforts of hard working Australians with the majority in regional areas,” Evans said.
“It has a strong future that can meet the requirements of a modern economy.”