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Today in Energy

December 7, 2011

Asia leads growth in global coal production since 1980

World coal production by region, 1980-2010 (click to enlarge and animate)

animated map of World coal production by region, 1980-2010, as described in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics.
Note: With less than 2 million short tons in total production, the Middle East was by far the smallest coal producing region—only 1/57 as large as the next smallest region—and was too small to show on the map.

Global coal production was up about 3.8 billion short tons (91%) from 1980 through 2010. China spearheaded overall growth in coal production, increasing 415% over the timeframe. While comprising 16% of global coal production in 1980, China's dramatic growth over the past 30 years—accounting for 75% of the increase in global coal production—has increased its global market share to 44%. Although Asia has seen sustained and rapid growth, coal production trends varied markedly by region. The animations highlight regional trends in annual coal production over the past three decades.

Some key trends by region include:

Asia. Asian coal production doubled between 1980 and 2000, and more than doubled again between 2001 and 2010. Asian coal production accounted for over one-half of global coal production in 2010 compared to 22% in 1980. Chinese and Indian coal production each increased around 400% since 1980. Indonesian production, although smaller, grew rapidly as well. In 2010, China accounted for about 75% of total Asian coal production, followed by India (13%) and Indonesia (8%).

Asia coal production by country, 1980-2010 (click to enlarge and animate)

animated map of Asia coal production by country, 1980-2010, as described in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics.
Note: In the animation, the bar at the bottom reflects annual changes in each country's share of total Asian coal production.

North America. North America was the second largest coal-producing region, accounting for about 15% of global production in 2010. While North American coal production increased 34% since 1980, current production was approximately the same as in 2000. The United States accounted for 93% of North American coal production in 2010, with about 1.1 billion short tons.

Europe. Europe's market share has declined, accounting for 9% of global production in 2010, down from 32% in 1980. Nonetheless, it was the third largest coal-producing region. European production has fallen 37% since 1991. Germany tops European production, accounting for almost 28% of the total in 2010, but German production was down about 48% since 1991. Coal production has trailed off in the United Kingdom too, down 86% since 1980.

Former Soviet Union (FSU). Coal production in the countries that occupy the land area of the FSU peaked in 1990 and was down 31% since 1980. FSU's current 7% share of global coal production was down from a 19% share of global coal production in 1980. In 2010, Russia accounted for 66% of total FSU production, followed by Kazakhstan (22%) and Ukraine (11%).

Oceania. Oceanic coal production was up almost four-fold since 1980. In 2010, Oceania comprised 6% of global coal production, nearly all of which was in Australia (99%). New Zealand accounted for the remaining share.

Africa. African coal production was small compared to most other continents, despite a doubling of coal production between 1980 and 2010. Africa accounted for less than 4% of global coal production; South Africa accounts for 98% of coal production on the continent.

Central and South America. Central and South American coal production was small compared to other continents, accounting for only 1% of global production in 2010, most of which was in Colombia (83%).

Middle East. Iran produces all Middle Eastern coal. The Middle East was the only region without any noteworthy coal reserves, accounting for only 0.02% of global production.