A PLEDGE to the United Nations by Chinese President Xi Jinping that his nation would stop funding foreign coal projects has attracted worldwide attention.
As we report today, NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean is describing the Chinese move as a threat to the Hunter coal industry, while other commentators say it will likely lead to a global eduction in the demand for coal.
While these outcomes are possible, there may be an element of wishful thinking in a lot of the reaction, once the details of the situation are examined more closely.
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Even with climate change pressures, both sides of the coal industry - coking for steelmaking and thermal for power stations - are in rude health.
Thermal coal, which accounts for about 85 per cent of Newcastle exports, is fetching as much as $US175 ($206) a tonne on the spot market, a four-fold price rise in a year.
Volumes are also up.
The price cycle will swing sooner or later, but there are arguments to say that when China banned Australian coal, it caused prices to rise as it turned to other, less efficient, producers to make up the shortfall.
China is far and away the world's biggest coal user, burning more than 4000 million tonnes of it a year.
However 90 per cent or so of that coal is mined domestically, and Newcastle was lucky to ship 30 million tonnes a year to China before the ban began - a literal drop in the Chinese bucket.
Perhaps most importantly, China's decision to "stop" investing overseas needs to be taken in context, given that the days of Western nations welcoming Chinese capital with open arms are effectively over, given the hardened political climate.
As we reported last year, the Morrison government used COVID uncertainty to tighten foreign investment guidelines "in the public interest".
China became a big investor in the Hunter coal industry through mine owner Yancoal, which is listed on the Australian stock exchange but ultimately controlled by Chinese state-owned enterprises.
None of this is to deny the industry is under immense pressure.
But until renewable technology can power the world's industries, coal will be needed, and will attract investors, with or without China.