Big price rises drive jobs growth in NSW coal industry

THE Hunter region accounts for the bulk of 1300 new coal jobs in the past year, the Minerals Council of NSW says.

Commenting on figures collated by the industry body Coal Services, minerals council chief executive Stephen Galilee said there had been “a sustained recovery in business conditions for coal mining in NSW over the last 18 months, with increased commodity prices delivering jobs in our coal mining regions”. 

The latest Coal Services figures showed there were more than 20,600 coal production jobs in NSW as at July this year, an increase of 1300 on July 2016.

Providing a snapshot of the NSW industry for the 2016-17 financial year, Coal Services said NSW had 41 coal mining operations, with two mines opening and three closing in the year to June 30.

Overall coal production rose after two years of decline, with saleable coal output rising by 7.1 million tonnes, or 3.7 per cent, to 198.2 million tonnes.

Output from the Gunnedah and Mudgee-Ulan areas continued to grow, while production fell on the Newcastle coal field and the south coast.

The Hunter is still the main coal producing region, accounting for 148 million tonnes of raw production, or 59 per cent of the state total.

But, price rather than volume is driving the improved results.

Coal Services said the average value of NSW coal sales – $106.97 a tonne – was up $29.05 a tonne on the 2015-16 figure, with the overall value of NSW coal exports rising 37.7 per cent to $18.2 billion.

The latest monthly bulletin from the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Co-ordinator shows Newcastle coal exports are neck-and-neck with last year’s.

As of October 31, 133.3 million tonnes had been rail-hauled to the port, 200,000 tonnes down on the same period in 2016.