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Claims Queensland has ‘Just a few years left’ of coal export capacity

Port of Abbot Point2Queensland is just a few years away from using up its existing coal export capacity according to the Queensland Resources Council.

Addressing a Central Highlands Development Committee breakfast in Emerald today, Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche said data from Queensland’s coal port operators show that exports totaled a record 209 million tonnes in 2013-14.

‘This is 25 million tonnes above the record set in 2009-10 and almost 30 million tonnes more than what passed through Queensland export coal terminals in 2012-13,’ he said.

‘This is clear evidence of the coal industry’s transition to an export production phase after an unprecedented period of new investment.’

The value of coal exports from Queensland this financial year is forecast by independent analysts to be more than $24 billion despite poor prices.

‘As predicted, volume is replacing price and keeping mines open in the toughest operating environment the industry has faced since the turn of the century.’

Mr Roche said that while uninformed speculation about the future of the coal industry was being promoted  by environmental activists, statistics reveal another story.

‘Take for example the claim by activists that only 65 percent of Queensland’s port capacity is being used – so why the need for more?’ he said.

‘The answer is that in 2013-14, 84 percent of available port capacity was used and all signs are that it will close in on 100 percent over the next few years.

‘What are these signs? According to the International Energy Agency, coal will account for almost 60 percent of Asia’s electricity demand growth over the next 25 years.

‘That’s not to mention that 1.3 billion people still can’t access electricity and 2.7 billion don’t have clean cooking facilities.

‘Queensland also has the best coking coal in the world, and every tonne of blast furnace steel produced in Asia requires 800kg of coking coal.

‘Commercial television viewers are being told by anti-coal activists that there will be 7,000 coal ships ‘criss-crossing’ the Great Barrier Reef by 2020. But according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, by 2020 there could be 2,450 coal and 500 LNG ships using ports adjacent to the reef.

‘That is eight ships per day while another 3,000 vessels will be carrying sugar, grain, cattle, other minerals and essential imports.

‘The Queensland coal industry has a strong and assured future, but if I can borrow a line – we’re going to have to fight for it,’ Mr Roche said.