Coal grab puts strain on skills

AUSTRALIA is set to ride on the back of coal exports next year with forecasts predicting an almost 30% increase in demand.

Over the outlook period to the end of 2012, world thermal coal exports are forecast to increase a massive 29% to $18 billion, while metallurgical coal is expected to be up 29% to $37 billion, a report released by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics has revealed.

Australia's resources and energy commodity export earnings are forecast to reach a record $215 billion in 2011-12, with iron ore, metallurgical coal, gold, thermal coal, crude oil, and liquefied natural gas exports all expected to surge.

The increases in thermal coal exports are supported by higher imports in the Asian region, whereas imports into Europe are forecast to increase only moderately.

"Queensland is embarking on an unprecedented period of economic expansion driven by its world-class minerals and energy endowment and long-term demand from the rapidly industrialising economies of Asia," said Queensland Resources Council acting chief executive Greg Lane.

"With more than $100 billion worth of new resource development proposals on its books, Queensland is poised to see the value of its minerals and energy production rise by more than 150% over the coming decade, but not without the inevitable challenges arising from significant structural change," Mr Lane said.

G&S Engineering chief executive and director for Manufacturing/Engineering at REDEC Mick Crowe said Australia was hooked up with a major growth market in Asia that was not directly linked to economies that were currently struggling, such as Europe and the US.

"The industry has been very strong and coal prices are at record highs," Mr Crowe said.

"What our region has to do is to make it as easy as possible for that investment to happen here.

"At REDC we are doing everything we can to make sure these investments are being made."

Mr Crowe said the shortage of skilled workers in the industry was a problem that needed to be amended so Australia could take advantage of the expanding market.

"We need to encourage government investment in social infrastructure, so people can actually live here," he said.

"People complain about immigration.

"The opportunities for this region will need local training, relocation of people from other parts of Australia and immigration but if there is no infrastructure you can't even bring anyone here."

 

OUR COAL EXPORTS:

  • World thermal coal exports are forecasted to increase a massive 29% to $18 billion in the period 2011-12.
  • Metallurgical coal is expected to be up 29% to $37 billion.


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