January 2022
During 2021, the global coal industry not only recovered from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, but proved that despite the worldwide negative outlook, coal burnt hotter than ever.
A long-term shift away from coal-fired power generation seemed possible during the lockdowns in 2020, bringing forward power plant closures in several countries and increasing the use of renewable energy. However, post-pandemic fiscal stimulus in developed nations, occurring as lockdown restrictions were eased, brought power demand to new highs and with it, the return of thermal coal as the most reliable source of energy generation. 2021 started with major Chinese cities reporting blackouts as authorities limited power usage, citing a shortage of thermal coal. The reports followed rising trade tensions between Beijing and Canberra, tying coal shortages and blackouts to the unofficial ban China imposed on Australian coal in October 2020. AME’s Newcastle 6,300 spot price started 2021 averaging US$85.09/t in January, followed by an unprecedented rise in prices beginning in March, with the Newcastle 6,300 spot price averaging at US$90.68/t, and ending in October, with the price averaging US$235/t.