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BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s metallurgical coal mine in Bowen Basin, Queensland. Image: QRC

The Queensland Government has highlighted the state’s strength as a producer of metallurgical coal as a key part of the economic recovery from COVID-19.

It was estimated in 2018 that Queensland had about 25 billion tonnes of metallurgical coal – 39 per cent of the state’s total coal resource.

In response to Australia’s Resources and Energy Quarterly for June, Resources Minister Scott Stewart was excited by a predicted a surge in the commodity’s earnings over coming years.

“This report forecasts Australia’s revenue from metallurgical coal exports will skyrocket from $22 billion in 2020-21, to almost $32 billion by 2022-23,” Stewart said.

“The metallurgical coal industry is a key part the Palaszczuk Government’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan, and it’s great news for Queensland that metallurgical coal prices have more than recovered from the fall caused by the pandemic and international import restrictions.”

Australia exported 177 million tonnes of metallurgical coal during the 2019-20 financial year, with a majority sourced from Queensland’s Bowen Basin.

Retired metallurgist-come-marketer for BHP Tony Le Bas told Australian Mining the future of metallurgical coal will be maintained well past 2030.

“Analysts are predicting there will be more steel produced by electric arc furnace by 2040, but there will still be 1.3 billion to be produced by blast furnace. So, over the next 20 years I can’t see demand for coking coal decreasing,” Le Bas said.

“We have the best coking coal in the world in Australia, and we produce the most on the seaborne market.”

Considering Queensland produces the most Australian coal, in a country leading the seaborne coal market, Stewart had reason to be vocal about his state’s prospects.

“This industry is so vital to Queensland, supporting our economy by exporting steel that helps build the world,” Stewart said.

“It’s encouraging for our economy that base metal prices across the board have recovered to reach pre-pandemic levels.”

According to the report, metallurgical coal prices have had a moderate recovery with the price forecast to increase from around $US143 per tonne in 2021 to around $US157 per tonne in 2023.

“Supply chains disrupted by China’s informal import restrictions have largely reorganised, albeit with some loss of revenue,” the Resources and Energy Quarterly stated.

The report stated coal export values will rebound from $22 billion in 2020-21 to almost $32 billion by 2022-23