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Coal exports

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This article is part of the Coal Issues portal on SourceWatch, a project of CoalSwarm and the Center for Media and Democracy. See here for help on adding material to CoalSwarm.

This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of coal exports
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Most coal, and particularly the lower value thermal coal, is burnt in pit-head power stations close to where it is mined. As a result, just over 15% of coal is traded across national boundaries.

According to the International Energy Agency, in 2011 the total international coal trade was 1.139 billion tonnes out of total global demand of approximately 7.384 billion tonnes. Of this thermal coal, which is overwhelmingly used in coal-fired power stations, accounted for just under three quarters. The remainder is metallurgical coal, which is overwhelmingly used in steel production.

Of the traded coal, just over 90% is exported by ships with the remainder transported overland. The overland trade primarily consists of exports between Eastern Europe and Eurasia and of metallurgical coal from Mongolia to China. However, the global seaborne trade is dominated by exports from and to countries within the Pacific basin. (See Pacific Basin coal market and Atlantic Basin coal market for more details).

Major coal exporters

Countries with annual export higher than 10 million tons are shown. Estimates are from the U.S. Energy Information Administration's International Energy Statistics.

Exports of Coal by Country and year (million short tons)[1][2][3]
Country 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Share
Australia 238.1 247.6 255.0 255.0 268.5 278.0 288.5 328.1 26.5%
Indonesia 107.8 131.4 142.0 192.2 221.9 228.2 261.4 316.2* 24.0%
Russia 41.0 55.7 98.6 103.4 112.2 115.4 130.9 122.1 12.0%
Colombia 50.4 56.4 59.2 68.3 74.5 74.7 75.7 76.4 6.9%
South Africa 78.7 74.9 78.8 75.8 72.6 68.2 73.8 76.7 6.8%
USA 43.0 48.0 51.7 51.2 60.6 83.5 60.4 83.2 5.5%
China 103.4 95.5 93.1 85.6 75.4 68.8 38.4 22.7 3.5%
Canada 27.7 28.8 31.2 31.2 33.4 36.5 31.9 36.9 2.9%
Vietnam 6.9 11.7 19.8 23.5 35.1 21.3 28.2 24.7 2.6%
Kazakhstan 30.3 27.4 28.3 30.5 32.8 47.6 25.7 36.3 2.4%
Poland 28.0 27.5 26.5 25.4 20.1 16.1 14.6 18.1 1.3%
Total (global) 713.9 764.0 936.0 1,000.6 1,073.4 1,087.3 1,090.8 1,212.8 100%
Note: 1 metric ton (tonne) = 1.10231 short tons
  • While the US EIA puts 2010 total coal exports for Indonesia at 316.2 short tons,[4] the World Coal Association puts the figure much lower, at 162 metric tons (178.6 short tons).[5]

Australia

In 2006 Australia exported 237 million tonnes of coal, making it the world's largest exporter of coal. It also consumed over 70 million tonnes of coal domestically, of which approximately 85% is used in power generation.[6] The following corporations are responsible for the bulk of Australian exports:[7]

  • Xstrata 24%
  • Rio 18%
  • BHP Billiton 14%
  • Peabody 5%
  • Anglo American 4%
  • Other 35%
Major Export Markets For Australian Coal (2008–2009)[8]
Country/Area Million Tons Coking Million Tons Steaming Million Tons Total Rank % of exports
Japan 43.3 61.5 104.8 1 39.8
Korea (ROK) 15.1 27.9 43.1 2 16.3
Taiwan 6.1 20.0 26.1 3 9.9
China 15.5 9.5 25.0 4 9.5
India 23.8 0.9 24.7 5 9.4
Europe 18.6 2.3 20.9 6 7.9

Colombia

Colombia is the world's tenth largest producer of hard coals and the sixth largest exporter of coal. In 2006 it was estimated that Colombia would mine 64 million tonnes of thermal coal, of which approximately 60 million tonnes was for the international export trade.[9] The U.S. Geological Survey states that Colombia is the largest coal producer in South America and has the largest reserves in the region. It also states that coal mining for export is booming in Colombia, with production having increased by 80% since 1999.[10][10]

The majority of Colombia's coal exports are shipped to European markets due to shorter distances and lower freight costs compared to the rapidly growing Asian markets. Colombia is considered to be a low-cost producer with its coal highly sought after due to its low sulfur content.[11]

The following corporations are responsible for the bulk of Colombia's exports:[7]

  • Drummond 47%
  • Anglo American 16%
  • BHP Billiton 16%
  • Xstrata 16%
  • Other 5%

Indonesia

ABARE, the Australian government's resources agency, reports that 2006 Indonesia exported 170 million tonnes of thermal coal and estimated that this would grow to 186 million tonnes in 2007 and 201 million tonnes in 2008.[12]

In an earlier review on the global coal trade, ABARE analyst Alan Copeland noted that thermal coal exports from Indonesia were estimated to have grown by approximately 33% in each of 2004, 2005 and 2006. "The growth in Indonesia’s exports reflects the ability of its coal industry to respond to the rapid growth in Asian demand for thermal coal, supported by unconstrained transport and port capacity. A significant proportion of coal transport in Indonesia is water based, which allows for coal to be transported along rivers via barges to the open sea for loading on to larger vessels," he wrote.[13]

However, a spin off to the dramatic rise in coal demand is the rise of illegal mining. In September 2005 the Washington Post reported on the staggering scale of coal-laden trucks -- which are notionally banned from public roads -- going all-night from "from scores of often-illegal mines" on their way to a local port. An anonymous senior official in Indonesia's Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources raised doubt about the accuracy of the Indonesian government's official export figures. "I bet no one has current and accurate data about what is happening out there," he said.[14]

The World Coal Institute estimates that of the 107.3 million tonnes exported in 2005, 89 million tonnes was steam coal with the remainder being coking coal.[15] ABARE reports that between "1988 and 2005, thermal coal exports from Indonesia increased by an average of around 23 per cent a year."[16]

ABARE lists the main destinations for Indonesian thermal coal as being[16]:

  • Japan (approximately 25%);
  • Chinese Taipei (17%)
  • India (15%); and
  • the Republic of Korea (13%).

Copeland also notes that India imports Indonesian low-ash coal for blending with its higher-ash content domestic coals.[13]

Corporate market share of Indonesian exports

The following corporations are responsible for the bulk of Indonesia's exports:[7]

  • Bumi Resources 28%
  • Banpu 23%
  • Adaro Indonesia 18%
  • Other 31%

Russia

In 2009, Russia exported 12.09 million tonnes of coal to China, up 1,500% over 2008.[17] In 2010, Russia shipped 32 million tons to India, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and China;[18] during the first half of 2010, Russia exported 6 million tonnes of coal to China, making it currently the fourth-largest coal exporter to China. Russia plans to increase annual coal exports to China to 15 million tonnes for the next five years, then increase exports to 20 million tonnes per year for the next 20 years;[17] overall, Russian officials have said they want to more than double coal exports to Asia to an annual 85 million metric tons by 2030.[19]

South Africa

South Africa has also become a major player in the global coal trade, exporting an estimated 69 million tonnes in 2006.[20] The bulk of this is exported to Germany, Spain and Japan.[21] The following corporations are responsible for the bulk of South Africa's exports:[7]

  • Anglo American 34%
  • BHP-Billiton 31%
  • Xstrata 20%
  • Other 14%

United States

See also: U.S. coal exports

In 2007, the United States exported almost 60 million tons of coal. One industry analyst estimated that the amount would rise to 80-90 million tons in 2008 and 100 million tons in 2009. Through June 2008, producers sent 40.4 million tons overseas, a 57 percent increase over the same period in 2007.[22] Total 2008 exports was 81.5 million tons.[23]

In 2009, the U.S. exported 59 million short tons, due to the 2008 global economic depression.[24][25]

The U.S. exported 81.5 million tons of coal in 2010.[26] By far, the greatest increase was exports to China, which rose from just 2,714 tons in 2009 to 2,916,710 tons in the first half of 2010.[27] U.S. coal exports increased by 4 million tons (23.4 percent) between first and second quarters of 2010 - by June 2010, U.S. coal exports were 39.7 million tons, according to the EIA.[28][29]

Coal exports from the United States are expected to jump 70 percent in 2011, due in part to increased demand in Asia-Pacific.[30] Analysts say total U.S. coal exports could amount to 100 million short tons in 2011, leaving only Australia and Indonesia above it in the world export rankings, and putting it above Russia, Colombia and South Africa.[26]

In 2011 US exported 107,259 thousand short tons of coal. This was the highest level of coal exports since 1991. More impressive: exports recorded a more than 25% leap compared to the previous year, 2010.[31]

Main export terminals

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, seaports in the Gulf Coast and East Coast account for most U.S. coal exports, with six seaports accounting for 94% of U.S. coal exports in 2010, up from 63% in 2000. The seaport at Norfolk, Virginia has consistently remained the largest export facility, making up one-third to one-half of U.S. coal exports since 2000. The next largest export terminal (at its peak) was Detroit, Michigan, which in 2006 accounted for 28% of U.S. exports, although coal exports have fallen more than 90% from a peak of over 16 million tons in 2008. Combined annual exports from Norfolk, Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland increased 18 million tons from 2000 to 2010. The EIA also said that "coal exports from Seattle, Washington have also risen sharply in recent years as significant coal production in the Powder River Basin seeks access to growing Asian coal markets."[32]

Northwest ports to be used to export Powder River Basin coal to Asian markets

For more information on the proposed port developments in the western United States please visit the Coal exports from northwest United States ports article.

Proposed Millennium Bulk Logistics Longview Terminal

In September 2010 Peabody Energy announced that "Coal's best days are ahead." Peabody stated that exports of coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming will be central to its expansion goals. The Oregonian in September 2010 reported that Northwest ports, and in particular ports in Portland, Oregon, may be used in the future to export coal to Asia. The Port of Portland said it doesn't have the space for coal exports in the short-term, but its consultants cited coal as a potential long-term market if it adds terminals on West Hayden Island.

Proposed Northwest Coal Export Locations.

In early November 2010 Australia-based Ambre Energy asked Cowlitz County officials in southern Washington State, which borders Oregon, to approve a port redevelopment that would allow for the export of 5 million tons of coal annually. On November 23 Cowlitz County officials approved the permit for the port redevelopment, which is to be located at the private Chinook Ventures port in Longview, Washington. Coal terminals also are proposed at two other sites along the Columbia River.[33]

Coalition Protests Ambre Energy's Push for Coal Exports.

Environmentalists stated that they would oppose any such actions, arguing that coal contributes to pollution and global warming.[34] Early discussion of how many jobs the port would produce was roughly twenty total.[35]

In November 2010 Powder River Basin coal producer Cloud Peak Energy CEO Colin Marshall stated that a coal port on the West Coast was "absolutely more than a pipedream."

Other Powder River Basin producers, including top US coal miner Peabody Energy, have talked about the potential for a new export facility on the West Coast, with Oregon and Washington being mentioned as the top locations of choice.[36]

Groups including the Sierra Club and Columbia Riverkeeper have vowed to stop the industry's expansion into Asia, a market currently dominated by coal from Australia and Indonesia.[37]

Proposed Terminal: Gateway Pacific Terminal

The Gateway Pacific Terminal is a proposed terminal at Cherry Point near Ferndale, Washington, and would have a maximum capacity of about 54 million tons. On February 28, 2011, SSA Marine applied for state and federal permits for the $500 million terminal, triggering formal environmental review. If approved, the terminal would begin construction in early 2013 and operations in 2015.[38]

On March 1, 2011, Seattle-based SSA Marine announced it had entered into an agreement with St. Louis-based Peabody Energy to export up to 24 million metric tons of coal per year through the Gateway Pacific Terminal. Goldman Sachs owns a portion of SSA Marine's parent company. According to Peabody, the terminal in Whatcom County would serve as the West Coast hub for exporting Peabody's coal from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana to Asian markets. The project would ramp up potential U.S. coal exports to Asia from Washington state. Another coal export terminal proposed in Longview, the Millennium Bulk Logistics Longview Terminal in southwest Washington, has drawn environmental opposition. That Millennium Bulk Logistics terminal would be a joint venture between Australia-based Ambre Energy and Arch Coal.[39]

Environmental groups have appealed to Washington's Shoreline Hearings Board over a permit awarded for the port by Cowlitz County commissioners.[39]

According to Gateway Pacific Terminal's website the company plans on providing a "highly efficient portal for American producers to export dry bulk commodities such as grain, potash and coal to Asian markets." Additionally, the site contends that the "Gateway project will generate about 4,000 jobs and about $54 million a year in tax revenue for state and local services. Once in full operation, it's estimated that Gateway will provide almost $10 million a year in tax revenue, create about 280 permanent family-wage jobs directly, and nearly 1,400 additional jobs through terminal purchases and employee spending."[40]

During the week of June 6-10, 2011 SSA Marine filed a permit application the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal. The application read:

"The applications submitted herein will cover the difference in scope between that approved project and our full buildout plan."

The earlier permit was noted in the application was approved by the Whatcom County Council in 1997. At that time, it envisioned a 180-acre development that would handle 8.2 million tons of cargoes per year, including petroleum coke (produced by local refineries) iron ore, sulfur, potash and wood chips. Coal was not mentioned an an export commodity in the earlier permit.[41]

Later in June 2011, Whatcom County officials announced that SSA must apply for a new permit for its proposed Gateway Terminal.[42]

Seward Coal Terminal, Alaska

The Seward Coal Loading Facility, referred to as the Seward Coal Terminal, was built in 1984 to provide for the export of coal from Usibelli Coal Mine. The facility consists of a railroad spur, a variety of coal storage and handling and loading equipment, as well as a large dock. The Alaska Railroad purchased the facility in 2003 and has performed a variety of upgrades including an ongoing expansion of the coal storage areas in anticipation of increased coal exports from Alaska.[43]

Railroad company looks at Port of Grays Harbor in Washington State for coal exports

It was reported in July 2011 that a railroad was looking at a Port of Grays Harbor terminal in Hoquiam, Washington for a terminal to ship coal to China. RailAmerica Vice Predident Gary Lewis told The Daily World of Aberdeen the idea would require further study and the project is several years from being completed.

RailAmerica owns the Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad that serves Grays Harbor. The port's potential coal export terminal, located on a former log yard, could bring another 75 ship calls a year to Grays Harbor.[44]

In August 2011 it was announced that RailAmerica was canceling its plan for a coal storage and export facility at the port's Terminal 3. The company said they believed there are other uses for the terminal that are more likely to generate jobs, tax revenues and business for the port and for the company, said Gary Lewis. As such plans to export coal from Grays Harbor were cancelled.[45]

Global market shares of leading mining corporations

A November 2007 presentation to investment analysts by the President of BHP Billiton Coal, Dave Murray, detailed the 2006 corporate market share of the global coal export trade. In one of his slides at the presentation Murray identified the industry globally as being "fragmented" and listed the corporate breakdown as being[7]:

Protests Against Coal Exports

Rising Tide allies attempt to block a coal ship in Newcastle, Australia, on Nov. 3, 2007.

June 5, 2006, and Nov. 3, 2007: Rising Tide boat blockades of Newcastle port

On June 5, 2006, in a Rising Tide Australia action, 70 people used small boats to blockade the port of Newcastle, Australia, which exports 80 million tons of coal each year. The protest aimed to call attention to a planned expansion that would allow the port to export twice that amount.[46] The action was repeated by 100 people on Nov. 3, 2007: at this second action, participants attempted to block ships from entering the port for four hours, but police boats managed to escort three ships into the port. At one point, a police jetski rammed one woman's kayak, resulting in her hospitalization.[47][48]

Sept. 4, 2007: ASEN Occupation of Newcastle coal port

On September 4, 2007, 20 activists from the Australian Student Environment Network occupied the coal port in Newcastle, Australia. Five people chained themselves to machinery at the Carrington Coal Terminal. The action took place several days before an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Sydney, and was intended to draw attention to Prime Minister John Howard's failure to limit Australian carbon emissions. Eleven people were arrested.[49]

A Rising Tide activist blocks a train carrying coal to the port on Kooragang Island, Australia, on Nov. 19, 2007.

Nov. 19, 2007: Rising Tide Kooragang Coal Terminal rail blockade

On November 19, 2007, several Rising Tide Australia activists blocked a train carrying coal to the Kooragang Island coal terminal - from which 80 million tons of coal are exported each year. One person chained himself to the train; he was later arrested. The protestors demanded that the Australian government begin to reduce Australia's reliance on coal.[50][51]

April 19, 2008: Rising Tide blockade of coal terminal construction site in New South Wales

On April 19, 2008, 50 Rising Tide Australia activists stormed the gates of a Newcastle coal terminal construction site in Newcastle, New South Wales. About 20 of the protestors locked arms once inside, and refused to leave. Rising Tide activists were protesting the planned expansion of the Newcastle coal terminal, which will allow the region to export more coal. 18 people were arrested.[52]

Australian Camp for Climate Action on their way to stop coal trains at the world's largest coal export terminal near Newcastle. July 13, 2008.

July 13 & 14, 2008: Newcastle, NSW, Australia Climate Camp stops coal trains at world's largest coal export port

On July 13, 2008 approximately 1000 activists stopped three trains bound for export at the Carrington coal terminal for almost six hours. Dozens of protesters were able to board and chain themselves to the trains while others lay across the tracks. Hundreds were held back by mounted police. Police arrested 57.[53] On July 14, 2008, five activists stopped coal loading at the Kooragang coal terminal for more than two hours by chaining themselves to a conveyor belt. Later that afternoon four protesters padlocked themselves to the tracks at the Carrington coal terminal, stopping all train traffic until police were able cut the group free. All nine were arrested.[54]

The direct actions, organized as part of the Australian Camp for Climate Action, were an attempt to bring worldwide attention to coal's role in climate change and the expansion of Australian coal exports. [55]

July 28, 2008: Greenpeace paints anti-coal messages on 20 coal ships

Using inflatable rafts, nine Greenpeace activists painted anti-coal messages on 20 coal ships waiting to enter the world largest coal export port in Queensland, Australia. The action intended to highlight the contradiction between the Australian prime minister's stated intention of urgently reducing greenhouse pollution while doubling [[Australia and coal|Australia's coal exports]. All nine activists were arrested.[56]

October 6, 2008: Greenpeace "Quit Coal" tour visits Spain, boards coal ship

On October 6, 2008, four Greenpeace activists boarded a coal cargo ship importing coal from Colombia into Spain. Others painted "Quit Coal" in English and Spanish on the ship. The action was in protest against the Spanish government's heavy reliance on coal for the country's energy supply and millions in state subsidies to the coal industry. [57]

May 2011: Protests target banks that support export companies in Portland, Oregon

On Friday, May 9th, 2011 two bank branches in downtown Portland, Oregon, one belonging to Bank of America and the other to Wells Fargo, were targeted by approximately 30 activists who showed up to protest the banks’ investments in coal projects. Both banks are major lenders to Arch Coal, the second biggest coal company in the United States. Arch Coal was targeted because, along with Ambre Energy, it is responsible for the proposed Millennium Bulk Logistics Longview Terminal near Longview, Washington. Arch Coal also owns the Otter Creek coal mine in Montana, which the company hopes to use as a source of coal to be exported.

Protesters assembled by Portland's Reed College entered the banks as mock coal export trains, which they believed will expose Northwest residents to coal dust, diesel fumes and noise pollution if the coal export facility near Longview becomes operational. A multi-car human ”coal train” entered the banks and marched around the bank's lobby, temporarily disrupting business inside. Climate activists chanted “Hey hey, B of A: Stop investing in coal today!” And later, “Hey hey, Wells Fargo: You say coal, we say no!”[58]

May 2012: Activists rally in Portland against exporting coal from Northwest ports

On May 7, 2012 several hundred activists gathered in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square to oppose the export of Montana and Wyoming coal from Northwest ports. Activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., chief prosecuting attorney for Hudson Riverkeeper and president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, spoke to the crowd. Kennedy said that coal would corrupt politicians, damage health and the environment and "turn government agencies into the sock puppets of the industries they're supposed to regulate."[59]

Coal export studies

Resources

References

  1. World Steam Coal Flows, EIA, 2007.
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  3. EIA International Energy Annual Statistics, EIA, accessed January 2012
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  6. Pui-Kwan Tse, The Mineral Industry of Australia: 2006, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, May 2008.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Dave Murray, "BHP Billiton Coal CSG Anlayst Visit: Hunter Valley Energy Coal", BHP Billiton, November 2nd, 2007.
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  18. Ilya Arkhipov and Yuliya Fedorinova, "Russia Plans to More Than Double Coal Exports to Asia by 2030" Bloomberg, Jan. 24, 2012.
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  31. "US Coal Exports at Highest Level in Twenty Years" Gregor MacDonald, Business Leader, April 9, 2012.
  32. "Six seaports account for 94% of U.S. coal exports, which are dominated by coking coal" EIA, Nov. 8, 2011.
  33. "Cowlitz County approves permits to export coal to Asia from port in Longview, Wash." Scott Lean, The Oregonian, November 23, 2010.
  34. "Mining companies aim to export coal to China through Northwest ports" Scott Learn, Oregonian, September 8, 2010.
  35. "Strategic withdrawal for Longview coal exporter" Joel Connelly, Seattle Post Intelligencer, March 15, 2011.
  36. "'When rather than if' for new West Coast coal port" Liezal Hall, MiningWeekly.com, November 12, 2010.
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  38. John Stark, "Gateway Pacific terminal at Cherry Point starts permit process" The Seattle Times, March 1, 2011.
  39. 39.0 39.1 "Bulk cargo terminal planned in Washington state" Seattle Times, March 1, 2011.
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  41. "Gateway Pacific permit application now available online" John Stark, The Bellingham Herald, June 14, 2011.
  42. "Whatcom County: Gateway Pacific cargo terminal needs new permit" Jared Paben, The Bellingham Herald, June 23, 2011.
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  48. Port Blockade a Success, Rising Tide Australia website, accessed January 2008.
  49. 11 Arrested at APEC Coal Protest, ASEN website, September 4, 2007.
  50. Coal Terminal Blockage Ended, Sydney Morning Herald, November 19, 2007. For photos, see Rising Tide Australia's website.
  51. Coal Train Blockaded, Rising Tide website, November 19, 2007.
  52. "18 Arrested at Climate Change Protest", News.com.au website, April 19, 2008.
  53. Protest halts coal train for six hours Sidney Morning Herald, 7/14/2008
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  56. Garrett defends coal exports, Sydney Morning Herald, July 28, 2008
  57. 'Quit Coal' - action against coal ship in Spain Greenpeace Press Release, Scoop World Independent News, October 6, 2008
  58. "Coal Train Visits Bank of America and Wells Fargo" Nick Englefried, It's Getting Hot in Here, May 15, 2011.
  59. "Kennedy, activists rally in Portland against exporting coal from Northwest ports" Scott Learn, Oregonian, May 7, 2012.

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