Coal in Australia is mined primarily in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. It is used to generate electricity and 54% of the coal mined in Australia is exported, mostly to eastern Asia. In 2000/01, 258.5 million tonnes of coal was mined, and 193.6 million tonnes exported. Coal also provides about 85% of Australia’s electricity production. In fiscal year 2008/09, 487 million tonnes of coal was mined, and 261 million tonnes exported. Australia is the world’s leading coal exporter.
Coal mining in Australia has been the subject of criticism from members of the environmental movement, because burning coal releases carbon dioxide, which is generally understood to contribute to climate change, global warming, sea level rise and the effects of global warming on Australia. The burning of coal produces 42.1% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, not counting export coal, based on 2004 GHG inventory.
Both Greenpeace Australia Pacific (Energy [R]evolution and Beyond Zero Emissions (Zero Carbon Australia 2020 have produced reports claiming a transition can be made to renewable energy and Greenpeace has called for a just transition for coal based communities, but others argue at present there is no strong evidence of a viable alternative for the vast majority of Australia’s electricity generation, or for the significant economic and social benefits coal mining delivers to regional communities. Coal Seam Gas, methane-based gas associated with deposits of coal has historically been flared, however over the past 10 years has been recovered and used to generate further electricity. Read More