The State of the Global Coal Mining Industry

Michelle Heath
The State of the Global Coal Mining Industry

Coal mining is facing unprecedented change. The world has over a trillion tonnes of coal reserves but climate concerns will likely keep much of it in the ground.

The US has the largest amount of coal reserves of any country but it is unlikely to use it all at current production levels.

China has more than half the coal reserves than the US but will run out coal within a few decades at current production levels. However, at current production rates, Asia would run out of coal reserves by the end of the 21st century if it continues its coal mining at the same pace.

Despite a 0.6% decline, coal remains the single largest source of power generation, accounting for 36% of global power and 27% of primary energy.

By far the biggest users of coal are China, which accounted for 51.7% of consumption (81.67 EJ), India 11.8% (18.62 EJ) and the US 7.2% (11.34 EJ).

In 2019, 167.58 exajoules (8,129.4 million tonnes) of coal was produced, 47.6% of which was in China.

With growth in production outpacing consumption in 2019, coal prices fell.


OECD – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

CIS – Commonwealth of Independent State

GW – gigawatt; one gigawatt = 1,000 megawatts = 1 billion watts (109)

TW – terawatt; one terawatt equals one trillion (1012) watts

TWh – terawatt-hour; a unit of energy equal to an output of one trillion watts per hour