Global coal production to grow by a marginal 0.9% in 2022 

Coal production around the world is set to see growth in 2022, with countries like India, China and South Africa's contributions expected to rise by 7.8%. 

Global coal mine production is expected to increase by a marginal 0.9% to 8,126 million tonnes (Mt) in 2022, with output from India, China and South Africa crucial to this increase. Collective production from these countries is expected to expand from 5.1 billion tonnes (Bnt) in 2021 to 5.5Bnt in 2022, a 7.8% rise. 

In contrast, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war is expected to reduce output from Russia and Ukraine by 18% and 50.5%, respectively, in 2022. 

After registering a 5.3% decline, global coal production rebounded strongly by 6% to 8,056.9Mt in 2021, attributed to the post-pandemic recovery. Of the total coal output in 2021, 87.3% was estimated to be thermal coal, and 12.7% was coking coal.

China, India, Indonesia, the US and Russia were the top five countries that contributed the most to global growth in 2021, backed by supporting government policies to boost domestic output. 

In contrast, production fell during the same period in South Africa, Ukraine and South Korea. Operations in South African coal mines were disrupted by weather-related events such as tropical storm Ana and severe rains. 

Overall, while short-term energy supply challenges are leading to increased demand for coal, the long-term transition towards renewable energy will negatively impact global coal production. Between 2022 and 2026, global coal production is expected to post a compound average annual growth rate of 1.3% to reach 8.6Bnt in 2026. 

In November 2021, a climate change summit – COP26 – was held in Glasgow as a global effort to phase out coal and cut emissions from the power sector, where 40 countries vowed to stop issuing permits and providing direct government backing for new coal-fired power stations. Many of the largest coal-producing nations, nevertheless, chose not to sign the agreement. 

While China, India, Russia and Australia disagreed on phasing out coal, the US is expected to decrease coal production in the coming years.

India, meanwhile, will be a key contributor to the growth, with its coal production expected to grow from 810.9Mt in 2021 to 1.2Bnt in 2026 as the country looks to minimise requirements for imported coal. 

// Main image: Vehicle at a coal mine. Credit: CAPIXEL via Shutterstock