Global demand for thermal coal was more than 1000 Million tonnes (Mt) in 2018. Japan was by far NSW's largest thermal coal customer in 2017/18, making up 44 per cent of coal exports. Overall, 60 per cent of Japan’s thermal coal imports are sourced from Australia, (IHS Markit, 2019).

Within the Asian market, future demand will be influenced by rates of economic development and adoption rates of alternate energy sources including natural gas and renewables. It is unlikely there will be a surge in thermal coal demand as occurred in the mid-2000’s with the emergence of China. Thermal coal demand in the Asian market is expected to remain significant in meeting the energy needs of the region. As some economies reduce their reliance on coal this will be offset by others seeking to build capacity to improve living standards, (RBA, 2019).

In 2018, the global demand for metallurgical coal was 337 million tonnes, with the Asian market making up 70 per cent of the total demand.

Although NSW is host to several operating mines producing high quality metallurgical coal for domestic and export markets, NSW currently accounts for a relatively small proportion of Australia’s metallurgical coal exports with the majority coming from Queensland, (IHS Markit, 2019).