Coal in Australia

Open cut coal mine in the Hunter valley

Coal is mined in every state of Australia. The largest black coal resources occur in Queensland and New South Wales. About 70% of coal mined in Australia is exported, mostly to eastern Asia, and of the balance most is used in electricity generation. In 2019-20 Australia exported 390 Mt of coal (177 Mt metallurgical coal and 213 Mt thermal coal) and was the world's largest exporter of metallurgical coal and second largest exporter of thermal coal. While only employing 50,000 mining jobs nationally coal provides a rich revenue stream for governments.

Premier coal mine in Western Australia, 2022
Maules Creek coal mine, 2014

Coal mining in Australia has been criticized, due to carbon dioxide emissions during combustion. This criticism is primarily directed at thermal coal, for its connection to coal-fired power stations as a major source of carbon dioxide emissions, and the link to climate change in Australia and worldwide. Coal was responsible for 30% (164 million tonnes) of Australia's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, not counting methane and export coal, in 2019. Coal as a fuel was responsible for 41% (160 million tonnes) of carbon dioxide emissions in Australia in 2020.

The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which followed the draft report in the Garnaut Climate Change Review, placed a price on carbon emissions through a reducing cap and trade emissions trading scheme and incentivised against carbon pollution temporarily, before it was revoked in 2014. Despite a target to reduce GHG emissions Australia continues to open new coal mines.

In 2021, coal accounted for 64% of energy production and 32% of the Total Energy Supply (TES), with 93% of its consumption by the heat and electricity generation sector and the remaining 7% by the industrial sector.

Forms of coal

Australian coal is either high-quality bituminous coal (black coal) or lower-quality lignite (brown coal).

Bituminous coal is mined in Queensland and New South Wales. It is used for both domestic power generation and is exported. Mining is underground or open-cut. The coal is transported by rail to power stations or export shipping terminals.

Lignite is mined in Victoria and South Australia, and is of lower quality due to a lower thermal value largely caused by a high water content. Ash content varies significantly but some Australian lignites have relatively low ash content. In 2013 coal from three open cut lignite coal mines in Victoria was used for power generation.

History

Australian Energy resources and major export ports as of 2008
Full-time employment in coal mining since 1984 (thousands of people)
Australian coal production (red) and exports (black), 1980–2012

Australian coal was first discovered in New South Wales by shipwreck survivors in August 1797, at Coalcliff, north of Wollongong. George Bass discovered coal soon afterwards in the cliffs at Newcastle off of Point Solander. Coal exports first left Newcastle in 1799, with it being mined by convicts. Shipments left for India, marking Australia's first commodity export. Mining in the area was initially small scale and used in domestic heating.

In Queensland, coal mining began near Ipswich in 1825. The following year coal was discovered at Cape Paterson in Victoria. It wasn't until the 1850s that the deposits were mined, however it wasn't enough to sustain Victorian communities. Coal was discovered in Tasmania at Plunkett Point in 1833. In Western Australia, the first coal deposits were discovered in 1846 at Irwin River in what is known as the Coalseam Conservation Park.

By 1901 Australia was exporting several million tonnes annually. By the 1900s coal had become integral to the economy as it was used in locomotives on railways and in steam mills cutting logs, and grinding wheat. In New South Wales development was particularly influenced by coal during the 20th century. During the 1940s Australian coal mines experienced significant strikes. The 1949 Australian coal strike lasted for seven weeks. The Joint Coal Board was formed to aid in the resolution of workers' disputes. Before WWII underground mines dominated. After WWII, Australia began exporting coking coal to Japan to aid in their production of steel. Exports to South Korea and Taiwan soon followed. Australia became the number one coal exporter in 1984. By 1986 Australia was supplying around half of all its exports to Japan. As the Bowen Basin Coalfields were developed, open-cut mines became more common. From the 1980s onwards the ratio of thermal coal exported to Asia increased significantly. High-grade coking coal extracted from the Illawarra region has supported a steel and steel products market with exports leaving via Port Kembla harbour. An anti-coal movement is a recent historical development.

Production, exports and reserves

Australian coal and coke quarterly exports ($Millions) since 1960

In 2016, Australia was the biggest net exporter of coal, with 32% of global exports (389 Mt out of 1,213 Mt total). It was the fourth-highest producer with 6.9% of global production (503 Mt out of 7,269 Mt total). 77% of production was exported (389 Mt out of 503 Mt total).

At the end of 2019, Australia earned $63.9 billion from black coal. The value of Australian coal exports reached $112 billion in the 2021-22 financial year. This was the second time a commodity had reached $100 billion in exports for Australia, after iron ore.

In 2021, Australia ranked second among International Energy Agency (IEA) member countries for the highest utilization of coal in both energy generation and electricity production.

Major export markets for Australian coal

Coal loading facilities at Newcastle, 1901

Australia exports the largest share of coal of any nation, at 54% of the total. In 2020, exports of coal accounted for 1% of national revenue, with a total value of A$55 billion.

Australia is the world's leading exporter of coking coal. In 2021-2022, about 55% of its coal exports were thermal coal, with the remainder being metallurgical coal. The primary destinations for its coal exports are Asian countries, notably Japan, Korea, India, and Taiwan. Following import restrictions by the Chinese government in 2021, coal exports to China ceased, even though China had previously received 69% of Australia's exports in 2020. Currently, the main importers of Australia's metallurgical coal include India, Japan, the European Union, and Korea.

Major export markets for Australian coal (2018)
Country/area Million tonnes coking Million tonnes steaming Million tonnes total Rank % of exports
Japan 35.8 81.0 116.8 1 30.0
China 39.6 49.8 89.4 2 23.1
India 45.3 4.8 50.1 3 13.0
Other 30.3 19.5 49.8 4 12.9
Korea (ROK) 17.8 30.1 47.9 5 12.4
Taiwan 10.0 22.5 32.5 6 8.4
Total 178.8 207.7 386.5

Major coal export ports

The Port of Newcastle, New South Wales, is the world's largest and most efficient coal handling operation through its two terminals: Carrington and Kooragang. Australia has nine major coal-export ports, including:

Major Australian coal export ports
Port State Million tonnes
2009
Million tonnes
2008
Newcastle NSW 92.8 91.4
Hay Point QLD 82.4 80.4
Gladstone QLD 56.2 54.1
Abbot Point QLD 14.4 12.5
Port Kembla NSW 13.7 13.3
Brisbane QLD 6.3 5.5
Total 265.8 257.2

Table of Coal Mines in Australia

Coal Mines in Australia
Name Alternate Names State Coordinates Status Commodities Geological Province Geological Age
Hume New South Wales 34°32′59″S 150°16′22″E / 34.5497°S 150.2729°E / -34.5497; 150.2729 Feasibility Coal - black Sydney Basin
White Mountain (Clyde Park) Clyde Park Queensland 20°27′S 145°09′E / 20.45°S 145.15°E / -20.45; 145.15 Feasibility Coal - black Galilee Basin
Cornwall Blackwood No. 4 Tasmania 41°33′00″S 148°08′00″E / 41.55°S 148.1333°E / -41.55; 148.1333 Operating Mine Coal - black Tasmania Basin
Byerwen Queensland 21°21′S 147°49′E / 21.35°S 147.81°E / -21.35; 147.81 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Jax Queensland 20°43′S 147°52′E / 20.72°S 147.87°E / -20.72; 147.87 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Dysart East Queensland 22°33′S 148°25′E / 22.55°S 148.41°E / -22.55; 148.41 Feasibility Coal - black Bowen Basin
Orion Downs Inderi, Meteor Downs South Queensland 24°25′30″S 148°21′40″E / 24.425°S 148.361°E / -24.425; 148.361 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Drake Queensland 20°42′29″S 147°48′58″E / 20.708°S 147.816°E / -20.708; 147.816 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Abel New South Wales 32°49′06″S 151°37′16″E / 32.8184°S 151.6211°E / -32.8184; 151.6211 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Sydney Basin
Springsure Creek Queensland 24°10′S 148°25′E / 24.17°S 148.41°E / -24.17; 148.41 Feasibility Coal - black Bowen Basin
Newstan Lochiel Awaba East New South Wales 33°01′49″S 151°33′49″E / 33.0302°S 151.5636°E / -33.0302; 151.5636 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Sydney Basin
Carmichael Galilee (Linc Energy) Queensland 22°01′05″S 146°19′19″E / 22.018°S 146.322°E / -22.018; 146.322 Operating Mine Coal - black Galilee Basin
Broadmeadow includes Wallanbah Queensland 21°48′27″S 148°09′09″E / 21.8076°S 148.1524°E / -21.8076; 148.1524 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Thagoona part of Jeebropilly Queensland 27°38′08″S 152°37′48″E / 27.6355°S 152.6299°E / -27.6355; 152.6299 Historic Mine Coal - black Clarence-Moreton Basin Mesozoic
Colton Burrum, Maryborough Queensland 25°27′07″S 152°42′07″E / 25.452°S 152.702°E / -25.452; 152.702 Feasibility Coal - black Maryborough Basin
Wallarah New South Wales 33°08′08″S 151°36′44″E / 33.1355°S 151.6122°E / -33.1355; 151.6122 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
Canyon New South Wales 33°32′10″S 150°16′35″E / 33.5361°S 150.2764°E / -33.5361; 150.2764 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
Wonthaggi Victoria 38°36′32″S 145°35′20″E / 38.609°S 145.589°E / -38.609; 145.589 Historic Mine Coal - black Gippsland Basin
Spring Mountain Queensland 27°41′19″S 152°51′48″E / 27.6886°S 152.8632°E / -27.6886; 152.8632 Closed Coal - black Ipswich Basin Mesozoic
Western No5 Western Australia 33°27′19″S 116°14′07″E / 33.4553°S 116.2354°E / -33.4553; 116.2354 Historic Mine Coal - black Collie Basin
Hazelwood Victoria 38°14′55″S 146°24′05″E / 38.2485°S 146.4013°E / -38.2485; 146.4013 Closed Coal - brown Gippsland Basin
Eastern Creek Newlands Queensland 21°12′28″S 148°00′56″E / 21.2077°S 148.0156°E / -21.2077; 148.0156 Historic Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Bayswater No.2 New South Wales 32°21′02″S 150°53′29″E / 32.3505°S 150.8914°E / -32.3505; 150.8914 Historic Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Blue Mountains New South Wales 33°29′13″S 150°12′00″E / 33.4869°S 150.2°E / -33.4869; 150.2 Historic Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Oakleigh Colliery New Oakleigh Queensland 27°36′48″S 152°35′07″E / 27.6134°S 152.5854°E / -27.6134; 152.5854 Historic Mine Coal - black Clarence-Moreton Basin
Preston Extended New South Wales 31°05′23″S 150°11′59″E / 31.0897°S 150.1997°E / -31.0897; 150.1997 Historic Mine Coal - black Gunnedah Basin
Harrow Creek Queensland 22°14′09″S 148°11′07″E / 22.2359°S 148.1852°E / -22.2359; 148.1852 Historic Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Smithfield part of Jeebropilly Queensland 27°39′29″S 152°35′52″E / 27.658°S 152.5977°E / -27.658; 152.5977 Historic Mine Coal - black Clarence-Moreton Basin Mesozoic
Ewington Ewington 1, Ewington 2 Western Australia 33°21′45″S 116°15′00″E / 33.3624°S 116.25°E / -33.3624; 116.25 Operating Mine Coal - black Collie Basin
Ravensworth East Swamp Creek New South Wales 32°23′44″S 151°04′18″E / 32.3955°S 151.0717°E / -32.3955; 151.0717 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Chicken Creek Western Australia 33°24′19″S 116°19′22″E / 33.4053°S 116.3229°E / -33.4053; 116.3229 Closed Coal - black Collie Basin
Driffield Victoria 38°15′24″S 146°20′12″E / 38.2566°S 146.3368°E / -38.2566; 146.3368 Historic Mine Coal - brown Gippsland Basin Proterozoic
Loy Yang Mine Victoria 38°14′05″S 146°33′50″E / 38.2347°S 146.564°E / -38.2347; 146.564 Operating Mine Coal - brown Gippsland Basin
Cooranbong New South Wales 33°04′36″S 151°30′36″E / 33.0768°S 151.51°E / -33.0768; 151.51 Historic Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Ravensworth Narama New South Wales 32°27′24″S 151°02′24″E / 32.4568°S 151.04°E / -32.4568; 151.04 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
Kandos No.3 New South Wales 32°52′01″S 149°59′24″E / 32.8669°S 149.99°E / -32.8669; 149.99 Historic Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Ensham Yongala Queensland 23°27′16″S 148°29′51″E / 23.4545°S 148.4975°E / -23.4545; 148.4975 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Gunnedah New South Wales 31°01′00″S 150°10′48″E / 31.0168°S 150.18°E / -31.0168; 150.18 Closed Coal - black Gunnedah Basin
Cardiff Borehole New South Wales 32°55′55″S 151°39′04″E / 32.932°S 151.651°E / -32.932; 151.651 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
South Blackwater Humboldt, Kenmare, Kennedy, Laleham No1, Terang, Togara Queensland 23°56′49″S 148°45′00″E / 23.9469°S 148.75°E / -23.9469; 148.75 Historic Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Cumnock Cumnock No1 New South Wales 32°24′11″S 150°59′55″E / 32.403°S 150.9986°E / -32.403; 150.9986 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Sydney Basin
Ashton New South Wales 32°28′00″S 151°04′00″E / 32.4667°S 151.0667°E / -32.4667; 151.0667 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Moolarben New South Wales 32°17′24″S 149°47′06″E / 32.29°S 149.785°E / -32.29; 149.785 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Cook and Cook North Leichardt Colliery Queensland 23°42′33″S 148°54′53″E / 23.7092°S 148.9147°E / -23.7092; 148.9147 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Riverside Goonyella-Riverside Queensland 21°39′06″S 147°54′52″E / 21.6518°S 147.9144°E / -21.6518; 147.9144 Closed Coal - black Bowen Basin
Hillalong (MDL 324) Queensland 21°22′03″S 148°17′02″E / 21.3676°S 148.2838°E / -21.3676; 148.2838 Feasibility Coal - black Bowen Basin
Oakdale New South Wales 34°02′16″S 150°28′49″E / 34.0378°S 150.4803°E / -34.0378; 150.4803 Historic Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Bulga Beltana, Saxonvale, South Bulga New South Wales 32°41′12″S 151°06′36″E / 32.6868°S 151.11°E / -32.6868; 151.11 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Leigh Creek Copley Basin (Lobe A&E), North Field (Lobe C&D), Telford Basin (Lobe B) South Australia 30°28′49″S 138°25′00″E / 30.4804°S 138.4166°E / -30.4804; 138.4166 Historic Mine Coal - black Leigh Creek Basin
Hazelwood Mine Morwell, South East Field, West Field Victoria 38°16′08″S 146°23′28″E / 38.269°S 146.391°E / -38.269; 146.391 Historic Mine Coal - brown Gippsland Basin Cenozoic
Duralie Gloucester, Wards River New South Wales 32°17′29″S 151°56′57″E / 32.2914°S 151.9491°E / -32.2914; 151.9491 Closed Coal - black Gloucester Basin
Springvale Lamberts Gully New South Wales 33°24′02″S 150°06′20″E / 33.4006°S 150.1056°E / -33.4006; 150.1056 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Lake Vermont Vermont Queensland 22°23′56″S 148°26′19″E / 22.399°S 148.4385°E / -22.399; 148.4385 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Invincible New South Wales 33°19′37″S 150°01′48″E / 33.3269°S 150.03°E / -33.3269; 150.03 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Sydney Basin
Liddell Liddell State New South Wales 32°23′30″S 151°00′00″E / 32.3916°S 150.9999°E / -32.3916; 150.9999 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Callide includes EPC188 & Boundary Hill Queensland 24°18′39″S 150°37′20″E / 24.3109°S 150.6222°E / -24.3109; 150.6222 Operating Mine Coal - black Callide Basin
Goonyella Riverside Broadmeadow, Cleanskin, Eureka, Goonyella-Riverside, Isaac, Redhill, Riverside Queensland 21°47′32″S 147°57′43″E / 21.7923°S 147.962°E / -21.7923; 147.962 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Coppabella Johnson Pit Queensland 21°50′41″S 148°25′38″E / 21.8446°S 148.4272°E / -21.8446; 148.4272 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Bluff Queensland 23°31′08″S 149°03′54″E / 23.519°S 149.0649°E / -23.519; 149.0649 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Wilpinjong New South Wales 32°19′55″S 149°53′06″E / 32.332°S 149.885°E / -32.332; 149.885 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Moranbah North Queensland 21°52′17″S 147°57′24″E / 21.8713°S 147.9567°E / -21.8713; 147.9567 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Coal Cliff New South Wales 34°13′46″S 150°58′40″E / 34.2294°S 150.9778°E / -34.2294; 150.9778 Historic Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Mount Arthur Bayswater No3, Hunter Valley, Mt Arthur North New South Wales 32°20′13″S 150°51′22″E / 32.337°S 150.8561°E / -32.337; 150.8561 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Muja Western Australia 33°25′14″S 116°18′34″E / 33.4205°S 116.3095°E / -33.4205; 116.3095 Closed Coal - black Collie Basin
Cordeaux New South Wales 34°18′55″S 150°45′42″E / 34.3153°S 150.7617°E / -34.3153; 150.7617 Historic Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
New Oakleigh Oakleigh Colliery, Rosewood Queensland 27°36′42″S 152°34′29″E / 27.6117°S 152.5748°E / -27.6117; 152.5748 Closed Coal - black Clarence-Moreton Basin Mesozoic
Mangoola Anvil Hill, Great Northern, Hunter Great Northern New South Wales 32°17′48″S 150°40′12″E / 32.2968°S 150.67°E / -32.2968; 150.67 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Maxwell (Drayton) Saddlers Creek New South Wales 32°20′50″S 150°54′41″E / 32.3473°S 150.9113°E / -32.3473; 150.9113 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Sydney Basin
Anglesea Angahook, Jan Juc Victoria 38°23′30″S 144°10′12″E / 38.3918°S 144.17°E / -38.3918; 144.17 Closed Coal - brown Otway Basin Cenozoic
Wilkie Creek Braemar, Macalister, Tarcoola Queensland 27°02′32″S 150°57′39″E / 27.0423°S 150.9608°E / -27.0423; 150.9608 Closed Coal - black Surat Basin
Westside New South Wales 32°56′48″S 151°34′12″E / 32.9468°S 151.57°E / -32.9468; 151.57 Historic Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Baal Bone New South Wales 33°16′01″S 150°03′00″E / 33.2669°S 150.05°E / -33.2669; 150.05 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
Duncan Blackwood Mt Nicholas Tasmania 41°33′19″S 148°06′38″E / 41.5552°S 148.1105°E / -41.5552; 148.1105 Historic Mine Coal - black Tasmania Basin
Mount Pleasant (MACH Energy Pty Limited) New South Wales 32°14′12″S 150°50′24″E / 32.2368°S 150.84°E / -32.2368; 150.84 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Rocglen Belmont New South Wales 30°45′43″S 150°16′18″E / 30.7619°S 150.2718°E / -30.7619; 150.2718 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Gunnedah Basin
Daunia Queensland 22°02′38″S 148°17′19″E / 22.044°S 148.2885°E / -22.044; 148.2885 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Jeebropilly 7 Mile, Jeebropilly North, Jeebropilly West, Smithfield, Thagoona, West Moreton Queensland 27°37′23″S 152°39′34″E / 27.623°S 152.6594°E / -27.623; 152.6594 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Clarence-Moreton Basin Mesozoic
Mannering Wyee, Wyee State New South Wales 33°12′28″S 151°32′03″E / 33.2078°S 151.5342°E / -33.2078; 151.5342 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Sydney Basin
Collinsville McNaughton, Wollombi Queensland 20°34′03″S 147°46′07″E / 20.5676°S 147.7686°E / -20.5676; 147.7686 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Crinum Queensland 23°12′36″S 148°22′16″E / 23.2101°S 148.371°E / -23.2101; 148.371 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Bowen Basin
Berrima Medway Colliery New South Wales 34°27′55″S 150°15′57″E / 34.4652°S 150.2657°E / -34.4652; 150.2657 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
Stratford Bowens Road North New South Wales 32°06′58″S 151°58′29″E / 32.1161°S 151.9747°E / -32.1161; 151.9747 Closed Coal - black Gloucester Basin
Tasman O'Donnell New South Wales 32°53′12″S 151°32′24″E / 32.8868°S 151.54°E / -32.8868; 151.54 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Sydney Basin
Mount Thorley New South Wales 32°38′15″S 151°06′31″E / 32.6374°S 151.1086°E / -32.6374; 151.1086 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Curragh includes Curragh West Queensland 23°27′58″S 148°51′15″E / 23.4662°S 148.8541°E / -23.4662; 148.8541 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Warkworth Warkworth No.1 New South Wales 32°36′25″S 151°05′25″E / 32.607°S 151.0902°E / -32.607; 151.0902 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Capcoal underground Aquila, Bundoora, German Creek, Grasstrees, Oak Park, Southern Colliery Queensland 22°54′09″S 148°33′04″E / 22.9026°S 148.551°E / -22.9026; 148.551 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Blair Athol Queensland 22°41′26″S 147°31′37″E / 22.6905°S 147.527°E / -22.6905; 147.527 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Avon New South Wales 34°28′49″S 150°42′20″E / 34.4804°S 150.7056°E / -34.4804; 150.7056 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
Grosvenor Moranbah Queensland 21°52′24″S 147°59′34″E / 21.8732°S 147.9927°E / -21.8732; 147.9927 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Cullen Valley Feldmast New South Wales 33°16′09″S 150°00′58″E / 33.2693°S 150.0162°E / -33.2693; 150.0162 Under Development Coal - black Sydney Basin
Ulan Ulan No.2, Ulan West New South Wales 32°14′49″S 149°45′00″E / 32.2469°S 149.75°E / -32.2469; 149.75 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Kogan Creek Brigalow, Kogan Queensland 26°53′45″S 150°46′21″E / 26.8957°S 150.7726°E / -26.8957; 150.7726 Operating Mine Coal - black Surat Basin
Awaba Awaba State New South Wales 33°01′35″S 151°32′57″E / 33.0264°S 151.5492°E / -33.0264; 151.5492 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
North Cliff New South Wales 34°11′44″S 150°51′37″E / 34.1956°S 150.8603°E / -34.1956; 150.8603 Historic Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
United New South Wales 32°33′24″S 151°00′36″E / 32.5568°S 151.01°E / -32.5568; 151.01 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Wambo Homestead, Wambo Complex, Wollemi New South Wales 32°34′42″S 150°59′53″E / 32.5782°S 150.9981°E / -32.5782; 150.9981 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Premier Collie Operations, Premier Western Australia 33°23′30″S 116°17′11″E / 33.3917°S 116.2865°E / -33.3917; 116.2865 Operating Mine Coal - black Collie Basin
Teralba New South Wales 32°57′24″S 151°36′00″E / 32.9568°S 151.6°E / -32.9568; 151.6 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
Nattai New South Wales 34°03′51″S 150°25′20″E / 34.0642°S 150.4221°E / -34.0642; 150.4221 Historic Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Newlands, Suttor, Eastern (RCM), Newlands OC Eastern Creek Queensland 21°15′16″S 147°54′04″E / 21.2544°S 147.901°E / -21.2544; 147.901 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Poitrel Mavis Downs, Wotoga and Morambah, includes Winchester Queensland 22°02′28″S 148°14′04″E / 22.0412°S 148.2344°E / -22.0412; 148.2344 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Cullenswood Tasmania 41°37′04″S 148°09′08″E / 41.6178°S 148.1523°E / -41.6178; 148.1523 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Tasmania Basin
Foxleigh includes Foxleigh East Queensland 22°59′52″S 148°48′14″E / 22.9978°S 148.8039°E / -22.9978; 148.8039 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Bengalla New South Wales 32°16′17″S 150°50′46″E / 32.2715°S 150.846°E / -32.2715; 150.846 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Rolleston Queensland 24°26′39″S 148°24′38″E / 24.4441°S 148.4106°E / -24.4441; 148.4106 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
West Wallsend includes Lachlan proposal New South Wales 32°56′52″S 151°36′17″E / 32.9479°S 151.6048°E / -32.9479; 151.6048 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
Minyango Queensland 23°37′57″S 148°54′53″E / 23.6326°S 148.9147°E / -23.6326; 148.9147 Feasibility Coal - black Bowen Basin
Yarrabee Yarrabee North Queensland 23°19′04″S 149°01′35″E / 23.3177°S 149.0264°E / -23.3177; 149.0264 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Airly Airly Mountain New South Wales 33°05′52″S 150°00′53″E / 33.0978°S 150.0148°E / -33.0978; 150.0148 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Dawson Dawson Complex, Moura Queensland 24°37′00″S 150°03′33″E / 24.6168°S 150.0592°E / -24.6168; 150.0592 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Mount Owen Glendell, Ravensworth East New South Wales 32°23′12″S 151°06′00″E / 32.3868°S 151.1°E / -32.3868; 151.1 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Dartbrook Kayuga New South Wales 32°10′59″S 150°50′25″E / 32.183°S 150.8402°E / -32.183; 150.8402 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Sydney Basin
Phillipson Corner Gate, Ingomar, Lake Phillipson, Penrhyn South Australia 29°23′50″S 134°30′00″E / 29.3971°S 134.5°E / -29.3971; 134.5 Feasibility Coal - black Arckaringa Basin
Munmorah New South Wales 33°12′24″S 151°31′12″E / 33.2068°S 151.52°E / -33.2068; 151.52 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
Metropolitan New South Wales 34°11′06″S 150°59′48″E / 34.1849°S 150.9966°E / -34.1849; 150.9966 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Isaac Plains Queensland 21°59′31″S 148°06′29″E / 21.992°S 148.108°E / -21.992; 148.108 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Mandalong Cooranbong Extension, Mandalong South New South Wales 33°07′36″S 151°27′00″E / 33.1268°S 151.45°E / -33.1268; 151.45 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Canyon Mine Whitehaven New South Wales 30°44′02″S 150°10′11″E / 30.7338°S 150.1698°E / -30.7338; 150.1698 Closed Coal - black Gunnedah Basin
Russell Vale (NRE 1) Balgownie No1, Bellambi West, Bellpac No1, Gibsons, Russell Vale, South Bulli New South Wales 34°20′48″S 150°52′12″E / 34.3468°S 150.87°E / -34.3468; 150.87 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Blackwater Stewarton, Tannyfoil, Taurus, Wilpeena Queensland 23°41′08″S 148°48′27″E / 23.6856°S 148.8074°E / -23.6856; 148.8074 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Moorvale Queensland 21°59′44″S 148°21′13″E / 21.9955°S 148.3536°E / -21.9955; 148.3536 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Kestrel Gordonstone, Kestrel West, Ti Tree Queensland 23°14′31″S 148°22′13″E / 23.242°S 148.3703°E / -23.242; 148.3703 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Clermont Queensland 22°41′21″S 147°37′51″E / 22.6892°S 147.6308°E / -22.6892; 147.6308 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Baralaba Dawson Valley Queensland 24°09′54″S 149°48′12″E / 24.1649°S 149.8032°E / -24.1649; 149.8032 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Hunter Valley Operations Carrington, Chestnut, Howick, Hunter Valley No 1 & No 2, Lemington, Riverview New South Wales 32°30′37″S 150°59′31″E / 32.5104°S 150.992°E / -32.5104; 150.992 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Myuna New South Wales 33°03′36″S 151°34′07″E / 33.0601°S 151.5687°E / -33.0601; 151.5687 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Jellinbah East Queensland 23°24′25″S 148°57′02″E / 23.4069°S 148.9506°E / -23.4069; 148.9506 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Charbon New South Wales 32°53′47″S 149°58′40″E / 32.8964°S 149.9777°E / -32.8964; 149.9777 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Sydney Basin
Tower New South Wales 34°10′01″S 150°43′12″E / 34.1669°S 150.72°E / -34.1669; 150.72 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
Peak Downs Caval Ridge, Isaac River Queensland 22°13′12″S 148°10′23″E / 22.2199°S 148.1731°E / -22.2199; 148.1731 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Angus Place New South Wales 33°20′57″S 150°11′56″E / 33.3492°S 150.199°E / -33.3492; 150.199 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Sydney Basin
Newstan Newstan Extension, Newstan Lochiel New South Wales 32°58′33″S 151°34′37″E / 32.9758°S 151.5769°E / -32.9758; 151.5769 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Sydney Basin
Brimstone Brimstone No1 and No2 New South Wales 33°59′48″S 150°27′20″E / 33.9967°S 150.4556°E / -33.9967; 150.4556 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
Bloomfield New South Wales 32°47′32″S 151°34′01″E / 32.7922°S 151.567°E / -32.7922; 151.567 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Maules Creek New South Wales 30°32′42″S 150°09′15″E / 30.5451°S 150.1542°E / -30.5451; 150.1542 Operating Mine Coal - black Gunnedah Basin
Muswellbrook Sandy Creek New South Wales 32°14′42″S 150°56′29″E / 32.245°S 150.9414°E / -32.245; 150.9414 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Millennium West Poitrel Queensland 22°01′30″S 148°12′47″E / 22.025°S 148.213°E / -22.025; 148.213 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Integra (Glennies Creek) New South Wales 32°28′08″S 151°08′06″E / 32.4688°S 151.135°E / -32.4688; 151.135 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
South Walker Creek Kemmis-Walker Queensland 21°46′15″S 148°26′34″E / 21.7709°S 148.4427°E / -21.7709; 148.4427 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Minerva Athena Queensland 23°55′17″S 148°02′50″E / 23.9214°S 148.0471°E / -23.9214; 148.0471 Closed Coal - black Bowen Basin
Burton Burton Downs, Kerlong, Plumtree Queensland 21°35′19″S 148°10′21″E / 21.5886°S 148.1726°E / -21.5886; 148.1726 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Bowen Basin
Saraji Queensland 22°22′10″S 148°17′28″E / 22.3694°S 148.2911°E / -22.3694; 148.2911 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Ravensworth UG Nardell Colliery, Newpac Colliery New South Wales 32°26′12″S 151°02′15″E / 32.4366°S 151.0375°E / -32.4366; 151.0375 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Sydney Basin
Rixs Creek New South Wales 32°31′36″S 151°07′48″E / 32.5268°S 151.13°E / -32.5268; 151.13 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Middlemount Queensland 22°50′53″S 148°37′54″E / 22.8481°S 148.6316°E / -22.8481; 148.6316 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Maddingley Victoria 37°42′15″S 144°26′25″E / 37.7043°S 144.4402°E / -37.7043; 144.4402 Operating Mine Coal - brown Otway Basin Cenozoic
Dendrobium New South Wales 34°22′37″S 150°45′36″E / 34.3769°S 150.76°E / -34.3769; 150.76 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Ironbark No.1 (prev. Ellensfield) Ironbark No. 1 Queensland 21°45′43″S 148°15′14″E / 21.762°S 148.254°E / -21.762; 148.254 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Ravensworth North New South Wales 32°26′24″S 150°59′49″E / 32.44°S 150.997°E / -32.44; 150.997 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Great Greta New South Wales 32°31′39″S 151°25′11″E / 32.5275°S 151.4197°E / -32.5275; 151.4197 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
Cameby Downs 50259, 50260, 50269, ML50258 Queensland 26°34′43″S 150°17′14″E / 26.5786°S 150.2872°E / -26.5786; 150.2872 Operating Mine Coal - black Surat Basin Mesozoic
Ivanhoe North Ivanhoe No2 New South Wales 33°21′25″S 150°00′36″E / 33.3569°S 150.01°E / -33.3569; 150.01 Historic Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
West Cliff New South Wales 34°13′03″S 150°49′28″E / 34.2175°S 150.8244°E / -34.2175; 150.8244 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
Gregory Gregory-Crinum Queensland 23°10′20″S 148°21′23″E / 23.1722°S 148.3563°E / -23.1722; 148.3563 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Bloodwood Creek Underground Coal Gasification Queensland 27°09′S 150°47′E / 27.15°S 150.78°E / -27.15; 150.78 Closed Coal - black Surat Basin
Maxwell CL229, CL395, Drayton South, EL5460, ML1531, Mount Arthur South, Saddlers Creek New South Wales 32°25′36″S 150°49′48″E / 32.4268°S 150.83°E / -32.4268; 150.83 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Tahmoor Bargo, Tahmoor North New South Wales 34°15′03″S 150°34′46″E / 34.2508°S 150.5795°E / -34.2508; 150.5795 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Curragh North Pisces Queensland 23°22′48″S 148°52′26″E / 23.3799°S 148.8738°E / -23.3799; 148.8738 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Saraji South Norwich Park Queensland 22°36′57″S 148°25′46″E / 22.6158°S 148.4294°E / -22.6158; 148.4294 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Bowen Basin
Glendell New South Wales 32°27′04″S 151°04′39″E / 32.4512°S 151.0776°E / -32.4512; 151.0776 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Donaldson Abel New South Wales 32°47′35″S 151°34′35″E / 32.793°S 151.5765°E / -32.793; 151.5765 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Sydney Basin
Stanhope Merrywood Tasmania 41°46′25″S 147°57′36″E / 41.7735°S 147.96°E / -41.7735; 147.96 Historic Mine Coal - black Tasmania Basin
Boggabri New South Wales 30°35′25″S 150°09′48″E / 30.5904°S 150.1633°E / -30.5904; 150.1633 Operating Mine Coal - black Gunnedah Basin
Wongawilli Colliery (NRE) Elouera, Nebo New South Wales 34°28′30″S 150°44′09″E / 34.4749°S 150.7357°E / -34.4749; 150.7357 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Sydney Basin
Hail Creek Queensland 21°30′19″S 148°24′24″E / 21.5054°S 148.4068°E / -21.5054; 148.4068 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Oaky Creek Includes Alliance, Oaky No1, Oaky North Queensland 23°02′30″S 148°29′36″E / 23.0416°S 148.4932°E / -23.0416; 148.4932 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Chain Valley New South Wales 33°09′47″S 151°33′00″E / 33.1631°S 151.55°E / -33.1631; 151.55 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Commodore Millmerran Queensland 27°55′49″S 151°16′45″E / 27.9303°S 151.2791°E / -27.9303; 151.2791 Operating Mine Coal - black Clarence-Moreton Basin
New Acland Acland, Glen Roslyn, Manningvale East, Manningvale West, Sabine Queensland 27°16′11″S 151°42′28″E / 27.2696°S 151.7078°E / -27.2696; 151.7078 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Clarence-Moreton Basin
North Goonyella - Eaglefield Queensland 21°38′51″S 147°58′36″E / 21.6476°S 147.9766°E / -21.6476; 147.9766 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Bowen Basin
Yallourn East Field, Maryvale Field, Yallourn East, Yallourn Township Victoria 38°11′42″S 146°21′37″E / 38.1951°S 146.3604°E / -38.1951; 146.3604 Operating Mine Coal - brown Gippsland Basin Cenozoic
Clarence includes Blue Mountains New South Wales 33°27′23″S 150°14′38″E / 33.4565°S 150.2439°E / -33.4565; 150.2439 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Austar Bellbird, Pelton-Ellalong, Southland New South Wales 32°52′01″S 151°18′17″E / 32.8669°S 151.3046°E / -32.8669; 151.3046 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
Sonoma Cows Queensland 20°37′S 147°52′E / 20.62°S 147.86°E / -20.62; 147.86 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Eagle Downs Peak Downs East Queensland 22°11′34″S 148°11′26″E / 22.1928°S 148.1905°E / -22.1928; 148.1905 Feasibility Coal - black Bowen Basin
Narrabri Narabri South, Narrabri North New South Wales 30°31′S 149°51′E / 30.52°S 149.85°E / -30.52; 149.85 Operating Mine Coal - black Gunnedah Basin
Sunnyside New South Wales 30°59′S 150°05′E / 30.99°S 150.09°E / -30.99; 150.09 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Gunnedah Basin
Carborough Downs Broadlea North Queensland 21°57′01″S 148°12′34″E / 21.9502°S 148.2094°E / -21.9502; 148.2094 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Western Main New South Wales 33°22′37″S 150°03′00″E / 33.3769°S 150.05°E / -33.3769; 150.05 Historic Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Avondale NRE Avondale New South Wales 34°30′29″S 150°46′26″E / 34.508°S 150.774°E / -34.508; 150.774 Historic Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Pine Dale New South Wales 33°17′49″S 150°03′54″E / 33.297°S 150.065°E / -33.297; 150.065 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Sydney Basin
Tarrawonga East Boggabri New South Wales 30°38′17″S 150°09′47″E / 30.638°S 150.163°E / -30.638; 150.163 Operating Mine Coal - black Gunnedah Basin
Werris Creek New South Wales 31°24′25″S 150°38′22″E / 31.407°S 150.6395°E / -31.407; 150.6395 Operating Mine Coal - black Gunnedah Basin
South Bulli New South Wales 34°20′59″S 150°53′21″E / 34.3497°S 150.8892°E / -34.3497; 150.8892 Historic Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Burgowan Queensland 25°18′43″S 152°33′54″E / 25.3119°S 152.5649°E / -25.3119; 152.5649 Historic Mine Coal - black Maryborough Basin
Moonee New South Wales 33°08′23″S 151°37′54″E / 33.1397°S 151.6317°E / -33.1397; 151.6317 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
Fingal Duncan Tasmania 41°38′23″S 148°00′56″E / 41.6396°S 148.0155°E / -41.6396; 148.0155 Historic Mine Coal - black Tasmania Basin
New Wallsend No2 Gretley New South Wales 32°54′59″S 151°40′42″E / 32.9164°S 151.6783°E / -32.9164; 151.6783 Historic Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Washpool Queensland 23°28′26″S 148°45′47″E / 23.474°S 148.763°E / -23.474; 148.763 Feasibility Coal - black Bowen Basin
New Hill Queensland 27°37′13″S 152°49′56″E / 27.6202°S 152.8321°E / -27.6202; 152.8321 Historic Mine Coal - black Ipswich Basin
Tarong (Meandu) Tarong Queensland 26°48′49″S 151°54′41″E / 26.8135°S 151.9115°E / -26.8135; 151.9115 Operating Mine Coal - black Tarong Basin
Endeavour Newvale No2 New South Wales 33°13′38″S 151°33′44″E / 33.2272°S 151.5622°E / -33.2272; 151.5622 Historic Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Enhance Place New South Wales 33°22′02″S 150°03′58″E / 33.3673°S 150.066°E / -33.3673; 150.066 Closed Coal - black Sydney Basin
Capcoal - Aquila Queensland 22°54′15″S 148°33′00″E / 22.9041°S 148.5499°E / -22.9041; 148.5499 Care And Maintenance Coal - black Bowen Basin
Wollombi Queensland 21°15′16″S 147°54′04″E / 21.2544°S 147.901°E / -21.2544; 147.901 Operating Mine Coal - black Bowen Basin
Gloucester New South Wales 32°07′04″S 151°58′25″E / 32.1177°S 151.9736°E / -32.1177; 151.9736 Operating Mine Coal - black Gloucester Basin
Swanbank Queensland 27°39′19″S 152°49′16″E / 27.6552°S 152.821°E / -27.6552; 152.821 Closed Coal - black Ipswich Basin Mesozoic
Appin Appin (Bulli seam)and Dendrobium (Wongawilli seam) mines New South Wales 34°09′38″S 150°51′48″E / 34.1606°S 150.8634°E / -34.1606; 150.8634 Operating Mine Coal - black Sydney Basin
Wilton Queensland 23°19′23″S 148°33′04″E / 23.323°S 148.551°E / -23.323; 148.551 Feasibility Coal - black Bowen Basin
Fairhill Queensland 23°19′23″S 148°33′04″E / 23.323°S 148.551°E / -23.323; 148.551 Feasibility Coal - black Bowen Basin

Major coal mining companies

Kestrel coal mine, 2007

The largest coal producers in Australia are BHP, Glencore, Yancoal, Peabody, Anglo American and Whitehaven Coal. As at June 2023, coal companies in Australia were making windfall profits due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, international sanctions against Russia and the energy transition in Europe are also forcing Russia to direct its coal exports eastward, creating more competition with Australian exports in the long term.

Future planned coal mining

Several new coal mines are planned for development in Australia. This includes Olive Downs mine, to be operated by Pembroke Resources, near Coppabella, Queensland. In 2021, the federal government agreed to loan the project A$175 million to begin the first stages of its development. In April 2022, the construction of the mine commenced. Production is expected to begin in 2023.

Divestment from coal

Coal production per person was the highest in the world in 2022

Australia's coal policy is aligning with legislative targets to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and reduce emissions by 43% by 2030. There's no fixed schedule for phasing out coal electricity plants or coal mining activities. Coal-fired generators must give a three-and-a-half-year notice before shutting down.

Several mines have announced plans to wind-down operations in coal within set timeframes, alongside planned closures of coal power plants in Australia. This includes Werris Creek (2025).

In 2016, Glencore announced that Tahmoor Colliery would be closed by 2019. However, Glencore later sold the mine to SIMEC in 2018, who still operate it.

In 2018, Rio Tinto completed its exit from coal mining with the sale of the Kestrel coal mine.

BHP planned to sell the Mount Arthur mine in 2022, but failed to attract a viable offer and decided to continue operations there until financial year 2030.

In August 2022, BHP completed its sale of the BHP Mitsui Coal to Stanmore Resources.

Banks such as Westpac have introduced restrictions on lending for new thermal coal mines, including a limit of 6,300 kilocalories per kilogram for new projects. By 2021, Australia' big four banks were committed to leaving thermal coal by 2030, pledging alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement. In 2021, ANZ concluded that the Port of Newcastle could become a stranded asset. ANZ took the opportunity to divest when the port was refinancing.

Environmental impacts

September 2019 climate strike in Tumbarumba, Australia

Both underground and open-cut mines generate significant environmental impacts, including modified topography, soil erosion, water pollution, air pollution and acid water drainage. The coal industry claims that extensive rehabilitation of areas mined helps to ensure that land capability, after coal mining, meets agreed and appropriate standards. It is estimated that air pollution from coal-fired power stations in Australia is responsible for 785 premature deaths each year.

Coal is the principal fossil fuel used in power generation not only in Australia but in many other countries. Links between coal mining, coal burning, and climate change are being discussed widely in Australia.

On 27 November 2006 the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales judge Justice Nicola Pain made the decision to set aside the Director-General's acceptance of the Environmental Assessment for the Anvil Hill coal mine, on the grounds that it did not include a comprehensive greenhouse gas assessment, even though the proposed mining of coal was for export. However, on 7 June 2007 the planning minister for NSW Frank Sartor reversed this decision and approved the mine, attaching a list of 80 conditions to the mines operation including conservation offsets.

An international climate think tank produced a report that concluded Australia's coal mines are emitting twice as much methane as national estimates, finding a massive under-reporting of methane emissions in Australia. As part of the nation's commitment to the Paris Agreement Australia must reduce its emissions by 26–28% in 2030 compared to 2005. According to the International Energy Agency, no new coal projects or gas projects can be approved if the world is to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Protests against coal

One of the first protests against coal development occurred to the south of Sydney in the early 1970s. Clutha Development wanted to build a new coal loading facility at Coalcliff. Coal was to be stored in heaps along the coast. Local activist, Judy Gjedsted, organised protests which successfully ended the proposal.

In November 2021, anti-coal protestors led by Blockade Australia disrupted activity at the world’s largest coal terminal, the Port of Newcastle, by abseilling from equipment and obstructing railway tracks. The protests lasted for 10 days and 17 people were arrested. Coordinated action by Blockade Australia in June 2023 saw ports in Newcastle, Brisbane and Melbourne targeted. In April 2023, about 50 people caused a train loaded with coal to come to a halt at Newcastle. Some of the protestors then climbed on top of a carriage loaded with coal, remaining there for almost three hours.

The Carmichael mine run by Adani Group, planned since 2012 and opened in 2021, drew national and international opposition, both from climate activists and traditional owners. In August 2019, the government extinguished 1,385 hectares of Wangan and Jaggalingou native title in order to grant Adani title to the land. Protestor activity at the mine has included 40 people blocking the entrance of the mine, with two chaining themselves to a drum of reinforced concrete.

In November 2023, one of the largest protests against coal and fossil fuels in Australia took place in Newcastle. A 30-hour blockade consisting of kayaks, surfboards and pontoons across a shipping channel blocked coal exports from the port. The occupation was organised by Rising Tide. More than 100 people were arrested after staying longer than an agreed deadline.

Environmental regulation of coal mining

A haul truck moves overburden at Carmichael coal mine, 2022

The Australian commonwealth government is responsible for making policy on off-shore exploration of coal and resources, while the governments of the states and territories are responsible for policy on onshore exploration.

Commonwealth law

The main Commonwealth environmental laws potentially applicable to coal mining are the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and the Clean Energy Act 2011. The EPBC Act is triggered if a proposed action is likely to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance, for example federally listed threatened species and groundwater impacts.

In September 2022, the Australian Parliament passed the Climate Change Bill. It includes the national targets of cutting emissions by at least 43% by 2030 (compared with 2005) and reaching net zero by 2050. The bill is largely symbolic, it doesn't stipulate how the country will get to its targets.

State laws

New South Wales

Relevant laws are mining law, land use planning law, biodiversity law and water law.

Pollution law

Coal mining requires a pollution control ('environment protection') licence under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW) if it exceeds the following thresholds set out in Schedule 1 of the Act: if it is mining, processing or handling of coal (including tailings and chitter) at underground mines or open cut mines and (a) it has a capacity to produce more than 500 tonnes of coal per day, or (b) it has disturbed, is disturbing or will disturb a total surface area of more than 4 hectares of land by: (i) clearing or excavating, or (ii) constructing dams, ponds, drains, roads, railways or conveyors, or (iii) storing or depositing overburden or coal (including tailings and chitter).

Queensland

In March 2020, the Queensland Resources Council introduced safety protocols to promote the health of coal mine workers amidst the international spread of COVID-19. These included improvements to social distancing of workers, disallowing visitors from the public to enter the sites and checking the temperature of workers at mine site entries.

See also


This page was last updated at 2024-04-19 16:52 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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