Coal Producers Planning 2.2 Billion Tonnes of New Mine Capacity
Coal producers are actively pursuing 2.2 billion tonnes per annum of new mine projects around the world, a growth of 30% from current production levels, according to a new report from Global Energy Monitor. The first-of-its-kind analysis surveyed 432 proposed coal projects globally and found a handful of provinces and states in China, Russia, India, and Australia are responsible for 77% (1.7 billion tonnes per annum) of new mine activity. If developed, these proposed projects boost supply to over four times the 1.5°C-compliant pathway necessary to meet the goal of the Paris climate agreement.
According to the report, coal producers’ expansion plans are at odds with the IEA’s net-zero roadmap, which requires no new coal mines or coal mine extensions, as well as the UN and leading research organizations, which have found coal production needs to decline 11% each year through 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5°C. While three-fourths (1.6 billion tonnes per annum) of proposed coal mine capacity is in the early stages of planning and thus vulnerable to cancellation, the report finds one quarter (0.6 billion tonnes per annum) of proposed mine capacity is already under construction. The prospect of a low-carbon transition and tighter emission policies put these projects at risk of becoming up to US$91 billion in stranded assets.
The countries with the largest numbers of mine proposals are China, which has 452 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of coal mine capacity under construction and another 157 mtpa in planning; Australia, which has 31 mtpa under construction and 435 mtpa in planning; India, which has 13 mtpa under construction and 363 mtpa in planning; and Russia has 59 mtpa under construction and 240 mtpa in planning.
Data for the report comes from the Global Coal Mine Tracker, which was launched in January 2021. This tracker currently provides information on the world’s major coal mines: every operating mine producing 5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) or greater, and every proposed mine with a capacity of 1 mtpa or greater.