Coal Industry Exports

About this Item
SpeakersTurner Mr John; Causley Mr Ian
BusinessQuestions Without Notice


Mr TURNER: Has the Minister for Natural Resources yet received details of the New South Wales coal industry's export performance over the past 12 months? If so, in what way has the industry helped boost the State's economy?

Mr CAUSLEY: Exports of New South Wales coal reached an all time record in 1990-91 of 51.3 million tonnes. This was 7.5 million tonnes above the previous record set in 1987-88, and 8.6 million tonnes - or 20 per cent - above the 1989-90 figure. A particularly encouraging feature of the export figures was the 29 per cent increase in steaming coal exports from 24.7 million tonnes in 1989-90 to 31.9 million tonnes in 1990-91. Steaming coal is the main coal type exported from New South Wales and comprised 62 per cent of total coal exports. The 1990-91 coal exports had a value of 2.7 billion, which is a significant contribution to improving Australia's balance of payments figure. Newcastle and Port Kembla coal loaders handled record tonnages, and State Rail also hauled record levels of coal. These figures are an indication of the increased efficiency of the State's transport infrastructure. Two factors that contributed to the record export levels were the Government's policy of encouraging investment for the coal industry by overseas consumers to improve stability and security of markets and streamlining of government approval procedures to ensure that new or expanded mines were ready to capitalise on market opportunities. The New South Wales coal industry has reached this position by being one of the most productive and competitive industries. But from now on the industry will face competition not only from South Africa but also from new producers in Asia, such as Indonesia. However, based on our track record and a number of recent initiatives we have had in place, I am confident that we can meet these challenges.

As I have said, in the last financial year exports of New South Wales steaming coal increased by 29 per cent on the previous year's figure, from 24.7 million tonnes to 31 million tonnes. The Government introduced a number of initiatives including a policy of encouraging participation by end users in mining ventures to ensure access to markets in the face on international competition. The success of this policy is exemplified by the opening by the Premier of the Camberwell mine in which Toyota Tsucho Mining and DIA Coal Mining hold a 50
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per cent stake between them. This mine will produce about 1.3 million tonnes per annum. More recently, I opened the United mine in which an Italian company, Agipcoal, is a major participant. In addition, the Government is advancing projects by granting leases so that there is no impediment to the development of new mines as windows of opportunity occur. Last year the Bengalla coal development area near Muswellbrook was offered for expressions of interest to develop a major mine to meet the increased demand forecast for the mid-1990s. In addition, a further four mines are at present under construction, which will have a total design capacity of about 7.5 million tonnes per annum when completed. A further eight mines are committed to development or expected to be committed before 1995. This is an indication of the confidence felt by the coal industry that it can compete with its international rivals. Finally I point out that in the next 15 years 25 new coal-fired power stations are to be commissioned in Japan with a requirement for an additional 50 million tonnes per annum. That is one of the reasons for my confidence that the New South Wales coal industry will continue to grow. Countries such as the Republic of Korea will also be building many more coal-fired power stations and will therefore require increased quantities of steaming coal.