Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan has highlighted the worldwide benefits of Australian coal while dispelling the myth of the commodity’s supposed decline.
In an opinion piece published by The Australian, Mr Canavan cited the “death of coal power as greatly exaggerated in certain quarters”.
Pointing to Australian Conservation Foundation misguided claims the closure of Hazelwood power station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley last year as a signal “the era of polluting coal is coming to an end”, Mr Canavan said the era of coal was far from over.
“In its last full year of operation, Hazelwood generated 10 terawatt hours of power,” he said.
“In the past year, global electricity production has increased by 590 terawatt hours, almost half of this rise coming through the greater use of coal.
“In effect, in just one year, the equivalent of almost 30 Hazelwoods has been brought online.
“So much for an end to the era of coal.”
Mr Canavan said coal was far from being in structural decline, with coal-fired power last year setting a record for supply at 9724 terawatt hours.
“Coal-fired electricity has risen by 62 per cent since 2000,” he said.
“It has been the fastest increase in coal use on record.”
Coal-fired power plants will underpin the demand for coal for decades to come as the typical life of a coal-fired plant is 50 years, Mr Canavan said.
“Continuing strong demand for coal will help support our terms of trade, our prosperity and employment in our mining sector,” he said.
He also said poor countries should at the very least not have rich countries hypocritically lecture them that they should not use coal.
“Those same rich countries often are wealthy thanks to their own use of coal,” Mr Canavan said.
“The use of Australian coal benefits the world because it is cleaner and more efficient, and helps promote economic development, lifting millions from poverty. The era of coal is far from nearing an end.”
While Australia is the largest exporter of coal, it is not a major producer with only four per cent of the world’s coal.
“We produce a high-quality product that helps increase the performance of coal-fired power stations,” Mr Canavan said.
“This performance boost is even greater in new coal-fired power stations, so the demand outlook for our coal is strong.
“The buoyant coal market makes it likelier that the Galilee Basin will open up and the Adani Carmichael coalmine (the first in the Galilee) will start.”
He said the Galilee would be the first major, new coal basin opened for more than 50 years.
“There are five other proposed mines in addition to Adani’s and altogether they would create more than 16,000 jobs.”