THE coal industry has dismissed media reports predicting the present export boom will "end abruptly" because of Chinese "decarbonisation", and questioned the role of Alex Turnbull, the activist son of the former prime minister, in the quoted research.
The Guardian and The Conversation promoted articles today based on a report in a US-based online journal, Joule, which describes itself as a "sister journal to Cell, publishing "peer-reviewed articles reporting findings of unusual significance in the field of energy research'.
The article, titled China's decarbonization and energy security plans will reduce seaborne coal imports: Results from an installation-level model, lists three authors - Jorrit Gosens, Alex B.H. Turnbull and Frank Jotzo.
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Stephen Galilee, chief executive of the NSW Minerals Council, said "the report, and the claims that are being made by those who commissioned it are highly misleading".
"NSW exports to nearly 20 countries, but none to China since mid-2020," Mr Galilee said.
"Despite this, our export volumes have continued at near-record levels due to strong demand in established markets and new export opportunities.
"We we would welcome a return to the Chinese market but the future of the sector is not dependent on China in any way.
"Strong demand for our high quality coal from a range of other countries has ensured the ongoing strength of the NSW coal export sector, and this is expected to continue."
Prices are also at record levels, with the latest edition of Australian Coal Report showing spot prices for Newcastle thermal coal rebounding last week to $US305 ($410) a tonne, an extraordinary price given the same product fell to a nadir of $US50 ($67) a tonne in mid-2020.
Dr Gosens, a lecturer at the Australian National University's Crawford School of Public Policy, was quoted as saying the study used satellite imagery and other data to build a more detailed picture of China's power stations, steel mills and transport links to inland China and Mongolia, where the authors expect to see new coal supplies replacing Australia and Indonesia.
He said Labor and the Coalition were both telling voters Australian coal exports had decades to run, but he believed the future was "a lot less promising".
The authors said in The Conversation that if China stuck to its climate pledges thermal coal imports could fall by 50 million tonnes in the next three years, with falls in Chinese imports of coking for steelmaking also.
But others point out that the reality of new links to Mongolian mines and other reports of major new power station construction programs in China show the decarbonisation pledges are not the full picture of China's intended future.
China rose over the decade before the ban to become Newcastle's second biggest coal customer, buying about 20 per cent of its exports. Japan has always been the main buyer, taking at least half.
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