In Australia, the last thirty years has seen a massive expansion of coal mining, predominantly for export but also for coal-fired power stations. If implemented, proposals for scores of new mines and mine expansions, along with expansion of railroad and terminal infrastructure, will lead to an even greater increase in Australia’s coal exports.

In New Zealand, most coal mining to date has been for the domestic market, primarily thermal power stations in the North Island and the Glenbrook Steel mill. However, in response to high global prices — especially for coking coal — in the Asian market, export production has been increasing. Further significant export projects are currently under construction or consideration, especially by the government-owned Solid Energy and the rapidly emerging Australian company, Bathurst Resources.

Solid Energy is also pursuing the development of unconventional coal projects: the Huntly Underground Coal Gasification Pilot Plant, a commercial trial of underground coal gasification on private land within its Huntly coal lease; a coal seam gas demonstration plant on the Huntly coalfield; the Mataura Lignite Briquetting Plant, a lignite briquette plant at Matuara; and studies on a lignite to fertiliser project and a coal-to-liquids project in Southland.