He was the Chief Executive Officer of Xstrata Coal from 2002 until January 1 2008. He worked with the company in a full-time position until March 30, 2008. From April 1, 2008 he was Chairman of Xstrata Australia Limited. In the media release announcing his retirement as CEO the company also stated that he "will provide, on a consultative basis, support to Xstrata in the area of government, industry and non-governmental organisation relations in Australia."
Prior to working for Xstrata he had been the Chief Executive Glencore Coal since 1994 and prior to this had "also occupied senior positions in other commodities including nickel, iron ore and bauxite."
In June 2005 he was elected as the Chairman of the Minerals Council of Australia, the national body that represents Australia’s exploration, mining and minerals processing industry." He held this position until May 31, 2007.
The Minerals Council of Australia media release stated that at that time Coates was a "Director of Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal, Port Waratah Coal Services, the NSW Minerals Council and the Queensland Resources Council and sits on the N.S.W. Mines Safety Council. He is also a Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors."
- Member, Prime Ministerial Task Group on Emissions Trading
- Member, Clean Coal Council 
- Director, Downer-EDI 
- Chair, Minara Resources 
- Director, Glencore International 
Resources and articles
- Santos, "Santos appoints Peter Coates to Board", Media Release, March 18, 2008.
- Santos, "Retirement of Chairman", Media Release, December 9, 2009.
- Xstrata, "Peter Coates to retire as CEO Xstrata Coal", Media Release, October 30, 2007.
- Minerals Council of Australia, MCA elects new Chairman and Board", Media Release, June 7, 2005.
- Minerals Council of Australia, "2007 Annual Report", Minerals Council of Australia, June 2008, page 6.
- "Premier announces clean coal council members", Queensland Business Review, accessed August 13, 2007.
- Directors, Downer-EDI, accessed June 1, 2009.
- Directors, Minara Resources, accessed September 11, 2009.
- Glencore International Board, organizational web page, accessed September 23, 2012.