Coal accounts for about 40% of the world’s electricity production, according to the International Energy Agency. It will soon replace oil and become the largest source of primary energy. Coal dominates the global energy arena due to its abundance, affordability and wide distribution across the world. Coal reserves are estimated at 1 trillion tons based on the current production rate. This means that coal should last about 115 years longer compared to the conventional reserves of oil and gas. Especially noteworthy are the significant coal reserves in Asia and southern Africa, two areas of the world that face major challenges in supplying energy to their populations. Coal reserves are highly underestimated in comparison with conventional reserves of oil and gas.
The 10 Leading Countries in Coal Production
China is the chief coal producer while the Inda comes in second. Other major coal producers are United States and Australia. Five countries, namely China, the United States, Russia, India and Japan accounted for over 75% of worldwide coal consumption. Despite the swift deployment of renewable energy, mainly in the background of debates around climate change, it is coal that is responsible for the largest upsurge in energy requirement of all energy sources.
Approximately 90% of the total global coal is produced by ten countries with China running in the lead. The statistics below show countries that have substantial coal resources. The data has been based on a wide assortment of material, as well as data acquired from the World Energy Council and both national and international publications.
Kazakhstan stands in tenth with a coal production of 111.1 million tons as of December 2018. Regarding consumption, Kazakhstan came in 13th, with coal accounting for nearly 85% of the nation's entire connected power capacity. The country has an estimated reserve of about 25.6 billion tons and thus holds the eighth largest coal reserve. Kazakhstan has over 400 coal mines.
Poland is not only 9th in the world in production but its also 9th in the world in terms of coal reserves with 26.5 billion and 10th in terms of consumption. It consumes almost all the coal it mines and no longer an exporter. Currently, around 80 percent of Poland’s power production is provided by coal. It aims to cut that to half by 2040, with renewables and nuclear providing much of the rest and gas-fired generation providing back-up.
Germany is still the biggest producer of brown coal but closed down its last hard coal mines in 2018. A phase-out of coal power is goal in Germany. However, coal still has 35.3 percent share in German power production. It is still 6th in the world in terms of reserves and 4th in the world in terms of consumption.
7. South Africa
With about 252 million tons produced, South Africa comes in seventh in global coal production. The country is the sixth largest coal exporter, having traded about 69 million tons in 2018. South Africa mostly exports its coal to Europe, China, and India. It is estimated that over 90% of electricity production in South Africa depends on coal. South Africa's established coal reserves had about 9.89 billion tons in December 2018.
Russia comes in sixth regarding worldwide coal production. It produced 354.8 million tons of coal in 2012, of which 80% was steam coal and the rest coking coal. Russia is also the fifth largest consumer of coal. It exported 134 million tons in 2012, becoming the third largest coal exporter. With reserves of up to 157 billion tons, Russia is second in the world as pertains coal reserves. Open pit mining accounts for more than half of Russia's coal production.
Indonesia comes fifth in coal production, having produced 461 million tons of coal. Indonesia and Australia have been head to head in coal export, and while in 2011 Indonesia overtook Australia in coal production by now the situation has been reversed. It is the largegest exporter of coal. Coal is responsible for 44% of Indonesian electricity production. The country has about 5.5 billion tons of coal reserves based on 2012 statistics.
Coal output in Australia reached 481 million tons in 2014, positioning it at number four in the world. The country exports about 90% of its coal, coming in second after Indonesia, and in 2018 it exported 382 million tons. Australia otherwise maintains 147.4 billion tons in its reserves. The country has about 100 private coal miners carrying out open-pit operations, and this method of mining accounts for 74% of Australia's total coal production.
3. The United States
The United States was the second worldwide in coal production but has slipped to third, generating 702 Million tons of coal in the 2018 period representing approximately 9% of global coal production. It is also the third biggest coal consumer. US consumption of coal is estimated at 8.5% of the world's total usage, and nearly 23.5% of the nation's electricity production depends on coal. The US also has the world's largest coal reserves, measuring in at approximately 250 billion tons.
India's coal production was about 716 million tons, making it the second-largest producer globally. India consumed 8% of the total world's coal, making it the second-largest consumer of the resource as well. It is also the second-largest importer of coal with a total of 197.84 million tons in imports in 2019, it trails only behind China as it imports rose by 12.6%. Around three-quarters (68%) of electricity generation in India depends on coal. The verified coal reserves in India are estimated at 101.3 billion tons as of 2018.
China has been the biggest coal producer in the past three decades. China produced nearly 3.5 billion tons of coal in 2018 representing 46% of global total coal yield. The country also consumes more than half of the world's total coal consumption. China is the fourth in terms of coal reserves, with an estimate of 138.8 billion tons per December 2018 statistics. It is estimated that China uses half of its coal for power generation, which accounts for over 80% of the country's electricity production.
Significance of Coal Production
Coal is proving critical in the world's energy growth. The need for coal is ever increasing, and ever larger percentages of electricity produced in the world are becoming reliant on power plants that use the resource. Regardless of the enormous distribution of coal reserves worldwide, these amounts are proving to not be enough. Furthermore, the ecological harms that come as a result of activities related to coal activities are grave matters and, thus, proper actions have to be taken. Consequently, it is essential for governments to discover innovative technologies for improved mining and coal processing, while also taking into account efficiency and the importance of environmental sustainability. It is paramount for policymakers come up with long-lasting technological solutions that look into future, hence putting the coal sector on a path that would allow it to respond better to future global challenges.