Overview of Australian coal. Australia's Coal exports largely comprise two forms of bituminous coal of coal – thermal and metallurgical. Thermal coal is used mainly for electricity generation, while metallurgical coal is used in the manufacture of steel.
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At its peak during 2007, Japan accounted for 60.2 per cent of the value of Australia's thermal coal exports. China was the big mover over the period, particularly over the last four years, rising from 1.5 per cent of thermal coal exports in 2007 to 12.7 per cent in 2011.
After crashing to levels last seen in the 2009 global financial crisis, spot market prices for Australian thermal coal delivered to power stations in southern China have shrugged off their aura of doom and gloom to trade at an 11-month high in June.