I had the opportunity recently to speak at an event hosted by the Singleton and Muswellbrook business chambers. It was great to meet so many local businesses working with the Hunter coal sector and there was a real sense of optimism about current conditions.
The Hunter mining industry is in a 'sweet spot' with high commodity prices, record levels of exports and increasing demand for our resources from traditional and emerging markets.
This is generating more investment, opportunity and jobs for the Hunter. The NSW Minerals Council recently released our Economic Impact Survey for the 2017-18 financial year which showed that mining had delivered almost 1500 more jobs than the previous year, there were 1000 more Hunter businesses supplying the local mining industry than in the previous year and that all up, mining injected $4.3 billion into the Hunter's economy. The good news for our mining communities and the thousands of Hunter mining supplier businesses is that is that these positive conditions are set to continue.
The most recent report from the respected and independent International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast continued strong growth in Asian demand for our coal through to 2040. This presents growing opportunities for the Hunter coal mining sector including our high quality thermal coal as well as metallurgical coal used for making steel.
Under the IEA's New Policies Scenario, which incorporates actual policy commitments made by countries under the Paris Agreement, the IEA estimates that while global growth in coal demand is steady, growth in demand for coal in the Asia Pacific will rise by 492 mtce (million tonnes of coal equivalent) by 2040. The report says, "Many developing economies view coal as important to their economic development because of its ready availability and relatively low cost. India and Southeast Asia are the growth centres for coal use in the New Policies Scenario, with demand more than doubling over the period to 2040."
Late last year, the Japanese Ambassador to Australia Mr Sumio Kusaka told a conference in Brisbane that Japan would continue to buy coal from Australia to secure its energy needs into the future.
We've also recently seen BP release its 2019 Energy Outlook largely confirming the expectations of the IEA and recognising what is actually happening in the real world, as opposed to some of the claims being made about the future of the Hunter coal sector recently
Our region is blessed with high quality coal that is in strong demand because it generates more energy with lower emissions than coal from elsewhere, making it a valuable part of many countries' response to climate change as it enables them to reduce their emissions as part of their Paris Agreement commitments.
The future of the Hunter coal industry and our coal mining communities is linked to our ability to meet this demand. This was well understood by the local businesses representatives I spoke to recently, and it is a key reason why there is optimism that future demand for our coal exports can continue at or near record levels for many years to come.