A perfect storm has seen demand for Hunter coal reach levels not seen since the mining boom of the late 2000s.
And a Northern Hemisphere energy crisis combined with strong demand from Asian buyers is likely to see the demand sustained well into next year.
High-grade Newcastle coal reached $US203.20 ($279) a tonne this week, a figure not seen since the previous market high set in July 2008.
"I don't think it's going to stay at these levels but it will stay at fairly high prices for a while," New Hope chairman Robert Millner recently told The Australian.
"There is no new supply coming on and people are still building coal-fired power stations, much to the disbelief of some people."
Ironically the spike in the global demand for fossil fuel has occurred on the eve of the Glasgow climate talks, which will challenge participants to make further cuts to greenhouse emissions.
The Newcastle Herald reported last month that China's ban on Australian coal had made little difference to coal exports through the Port of Newcastle.
Instead, its refusal to buy Australian coal had driven up energy costs within China. And its alternative suppliers - Russia and Indonesia - have struggled to meet rising Chinese demand due to weather and infrastructure constraints.
At the same time, soaring gas prices in Europe have pushed utilities to switch to coal generation.
This has led to European coal prices reaching a record price of $US232 a tonne.
One German utility had been forced to close one of its coal-fired plants due to lack of fuel.
Despite the demand for coal, a Port of Newcastle spokeswoman said the demand was not impacting on activity at the port.
The port has an annual channel capacity of 328 million tonnes and it is currently averaging 160 million tonnes.
Energy Minister Keith Pitt said earlier this week that the Chinese and Northern Hemisphere energy crisis was good news for Australian coal producers.
"These record prices confirm that, far from declining, global demand for Australian premium thermal coal is rising and forecasts indicate it will remain high for several years at least," Mr Pitt said.
Mr Millner said the spike in demand for coal did not mean that a transition to renewable energy was not needed.
"We all agree that there needs to be some sort of renewables, but we still need baseload power," he said.
"You can see what is happening in Europe at the moment with high gas prices and power prices.
"I think there's got to be a happy medium in the middle somewhere."