Global Mining: World Coal Production to Remain Flat to 2040


coal Mocambique_release
Coal stockpiles at Mozambique Moatize Mine (courtesy of Vale Mocambique SA)

Global coal production will remain near the current level through 2040, with decreases in China offset by increases in India, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) says.


In its annual International Energy Outlook, the EIA predicts a 28-percent increase in world energy use by 2040, with renewable energy, gas and nuclear power consumption growing at a faster pace than coal usage.

Coal’s share of overall electricity generation will decline from 40 percent in 2015 to 31 percent by 2040, the same level forecast for renewable energy at that time.

Overall, the EIA projects that world coal output will increase modestly by 3 percent from 2015 to 2040, reaching almost 9.4 billions short tons.

“Metallurgical coal trade will increase gradually over time as industrial consumption shifts to India and other countries with limited or no metallurgical coal production,” the organization says.

Asia is forecast to remain the largest importer of coal in 2040, while Australia and Indonesia will continue to be the largest exporters.

“Africa, the Middle East, and other non-OECD Asia, are projected to gradually expand coal capacity and generation through 2040, but their use of this resource starts from a low base,” the EIA notes.

According to the EIA, China’s coal production is projected to decrease by 0.7 billion tons, or 15 percent, from 2015 to 2040, as demand within the country falls.

Currently, Chinese demand is one of the factors driving thermal coal prices, according to FocusEconomics.

“[With] the global shift to natural gas-powered power plants and an expected oversupply this year, the outlook for thermal coal prices remains subdued,” analysts said in the firm’s September report. They see thermal coal prices averaging US$6.5 per metric ton in Q4 2017.

In terms of coking coal, global demand is expected to stay strong in 2017 amid a booming steel industry, “thanks to infrastructure developments in Asia.” Panelists polled by FocusEconomics expect coking coal prices to average US$146.7 per metric ton in Q4 2017.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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