Blog | 30th May, 2013

It's not easy being brown

In a speech last week Australian Coal Association CEO, Nikki Williams, blamed ‘extreme environmental activists’ for causing the downturn in coal prices that’s costing Australian coal miners money.

The ‘extremists’ (read ‘people who are concerned enough to take action on climate change’) may indeed take some credit for setting constraints on Australia’s coal free-for-all . But China’s reduced demand for Australia’s coal, plummeting global demand for their own export goods and their incoming (2016) emissions cap are also major factors. Why is China introducing an emissions cap? Oh yeah, because emissions are damaging their environment. Extremists.

So, reduced demand for coal. We could call that market forces. Tough for coal barons, dealing with market forces AND people who are concerned about the damage they cause mining and burning coal. Probably never would’ve invested in digging up all that coal if they knew how hard it would be. Oh well, live and learn.

If China’s coal imports peak, as expected, in the next couple of years, Australian coal interests will move heaven and earth – which they are very good at – to try to find someone to burn their coal. And as we saw in Nikki Williams’ speech, someone to blame.

So steel yourselves people. We can expect to be hearing much more clamouring and accusations from our poor coal barons.