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China, Australia, and Coal Energy

Written By: - Date published: 8:25 am, October 1st, 2021 - 31 comments
Categories: australian politics, China, climate change, science - Tags:

It is exceptionally bad for the entire world economy that China’s growing energy crisis is so big that its GDP growth rate has now been written down. As with COVID, when China sneezes, the world gets a cold.

China’s state media say that 20 out of 31 provincial jurisdictions have implemented electricity-rationing measures since mid September this year.

In 2019 China obtained 96% of its coal from Australia.

Then China banned coal from Australia. Ships full of the stuff tooled around off China’s coast.

Now seven months after the unofficial ban China are running out, and with running out of coal goes running out of electricity production. Total coal inventory at China’s major power-generation groups is just 11.31 million tonnes – enough to meet demand for only about two weeks.

According to some commentators this year, coal was supposedly passe in China. Not so.

Maybe, just maybe, coal diplomacy is more useful and effective than military and nuclear submarine diplomacy.

But all that coal that used to go to China is now going more to other markets such as Indonesia and India.

It is a particularly dark moment for the world that the best diplomatic leverage Australia has with China is with a key mineral that is destroying the planet.

Whether or not Australia uses coal supply as a diplomatic play in the next weeks will be particularly important to the degree of tension remaining between the two countries that New Zealand relies the most on for pretty much everything.

With rolling blackouts now common in China, this modern cold war just got colder in tens of millions of Chinese households.

31 comments on “China, Australia, and Coal Energy ”

  1. GreenBus 1

    We have plenty of coal, don't we? Actually I'm not sure, but it too could be used as diplomacy. Little Aotearoa wont stop China burning coal so maybe we can withhold our coal as well. Aussie should keep the coal embargo with China and who knows maybe they will invest in a cleaner energy option?

  2. Maurice 2

    Not only Aussie coal being diverted to India but also Iron Ore.

    https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/latest-news-headlines/australia-on-track-for-record-fy-21-iron-ore-exports-sets-sights-on-india-63388371

    "Australia, the world's biggest iron ore exporter, has confirmed India as the world's fastest-growing steelmaker and iron ore importer out to 2026, providing an enticing longer-term option for a government that expects A$100 billion per year in iron ore export earnings during that period."

  3. tc 3

    Imo mother earth will be the biggest loser.

    Scumo needs coalition partner National who are effectively a pro-mining party.

    Election has to occur by may 2021 and Barnaby knows he's got popup Scotty over a coal barrel.

    • Tricledrown 3.1

      The mining industry is keeping the Australian economy afloat .So Scomo is going to keep mining even if the environment is going to be damaged.

      • tc 3.1.1

        Yup it's all about the 'economy' which last time I looked was full of humans.

        That 'economy' sure has it's work cut out as scumos attempting to hide their decisions from scrutiny.

  4. Patricia Bremner 4

    Scomo is a Hillside believer… His friend in the sky will provide… Climate change, not so you'd notice.

    Serious fires floods and tornadoes…. what have they got to do with coal?
    He is calm and reasonable, in his eyes.

  5. Stuart Munro 5

    Mongolia has apparently stepped into the gap to some degree, their exports to China having grown 1000% since the Sino/Slomo Stoush. Shirvan at Caspian report has a good summary – can't link it from my phone however.

  6. coreyjhumm 6

    China is the most trade dependent nation om earth.

    Without India and Australia and parts of Africa China has no energy.

    Without food importants China doesn't have enough food.

    Without water…..

    If China becomes more aggressive a world that is increasingly fed up with China could just stop trading with it, won't happen of course because we're too greedy.

    But…. The world could use China's dependency on imports and exports to force China to implement workers rights, allow trade unions, dismantle it's "education camps" and to stop disappearing it's citizens, billionaires, actors and musicians and their families who criticize the CCP.

    Won't happen, we're too greedy and there are too many who look the other way or defend china's abuses on both sides of politics to ever use sticks and carrots

    But it's a nice thought.

    • garibaldi 6.1

      Why is it that people are so concerned about "Chinese aggression" when they are rank amateurs compared to overt and covert operations worldwide by the USA? And ,yes, we are too greedy, just as we have been for yonks. The Planet will terminate our current economic practices within the next ten years and yet we are too dumb to give up our greed. We should never have, given ourselves the title of Homo sapiens. Homo dumbarses would be more appropriate.

  7. Brigid 7

    "In 2019 China obtained 96% of its coal from Australia."

    No. That's not correct.

    The article says

    "In 2019, about 96.3 percent of China’s coal imports came from Australia (77 million metric tons), Indonesia (47.8 million metric tons), Mongolia (36.1 million tons), and Russia (29.2 million metric tons). "

    Which means, according to the writer, 96.3% of China's coal imports came from Australia and Indonesia and Mongolia and Russia.

  8. Bearded Git 8

    I read somewhere a few weeks ago that Australia has so much lithium it will make its iron ore experts look like a small Fosters…. sorry no link .. can't remember where

    • roblogic 8.1

      Lucky buggers! Striking it rich again.

    • Scud 8.2

      Yep, you are correct & thence why I’m have been investing Lithium, Rare Earth, Copper, Nickel, Bauxite, High grade iron ore (not the cheap shit that Oz sends to China) & Uranium Shares over the last 10yrs amongst other companies outside of the Mining/ Materials Sector.

      It’s a shame Oz doesn’t value add those commodities into a high tech manufacturing sector, instead of being the world’s quarry.

  9. Ghostwhowalksnz 9

    China only uses a small proportion of its total coal needs from Australia

    '2020 from a year earlier to around 4.04 billion tonnes, according to Reuters’ calculations based on official data.'

    Coal imports including Australia werent even 10% of that

    'Coal imports totalled 303.99 million tonnes last year, a record high'

    Some are saying importers are using middlemen ( a common Chinese trading strategy) to hide the origin of Australian coal [turning into US coal] as it still seems to be leaving Australia.

    • Scud 9.1

      Coking Coal has gone through the roof IRT to coal exports, but thermal coal exports have tanked with a few small thermal coal export mines have closed & thence the Barnby & co have gone completely bananas about the building more coal burning power stations etc.

      Australia Thermal Coal is highly regarded for its low ash & sulphur content as it means less maintenance & downtime for boiler cleaning & maintenance. Which is why China in the dog box with its power supply issues as there Power Stations are having to use low quality coal, which is forcing more maintenance during the peak power demand in the Nth’ern Chinese winter.

      This is China’s 2nd or 3rd winter now since China banned Australian Thermal Coal import & I would’ve thought China would its shit together by now. As the last thing the Chinese Government would want is a restless population with rolling brown outs during this winter again, but then again the Chinese Government could use this for its own propaganda saying the West is humiliating China again to stir anti western sentiment etc etc?

  10. SPC 10

    However, finding new sources of coal imports may not be straightforward.

    Russia is already focused on its customers in Europe, Indonesian output has been hit by heavy rains and nearby Mongolia is facing a shortage of road haulage capacity,

    https://www.bbc.com/news/business-58733193

  11. Ad 11

    China finally folds and digs into all that unused Australian coal they had stored.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-06/china-turns-to-stranded-australian-coal-to-combat-power-crun/100518440

    A million tonnes is only roughly a days worth, but they ain't too proud to beg.

    • Scud 11.1

      The price of Thermal Coal has skyrocketed since the 1st, they’ve picked a fine time to start using Ozzie Coal now. Next the silly buggers will be complaining about the price of Thermal Coal as they do about the price of Coking Coal & Iron Ore 😂.

  12. SPC 12

    India is also struggling with coal shortages. It's now using domestic coal for power generation – usually using imported coal for this.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/business-58824804

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