The largest coal producing countries are not confined to one region. The top five producers are China, the USA, India, Australia, and South Africa. Much of global coal production is used in the country in which it is produced only approximately 18% of hard coal production is destined for the international coal market.

Global coal production is expected grow from the approximate 4 billion tons currently mined annually to 7 billion tons in 2030, with China accounting for approximately half the increase over this period.

The International Energy Outlook 2007 (IEO2007) published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects an increase of world coal consumption by 74 percent over the period from 2004 to 2030. In 2004, coal accounted for 26 percent of total world energy consumption. Coal’s share of total world energy consumption is projected to increase to 28 percent in 2030, and in the electric power sector its share is projected to rise from 43 percent in 2004 to 45 percent in 2030. Of the coal produced worldwide, 65 percent is shipped to electricity producers, 31 percent to industrial consumers, and most of the remaining 4 percent to coal consumers in the residential and commercial sectors.

The IEO2007 projects a 44% increase in international coal trade by 2030. The largest increase in consumption is projected for coal that is consumed in China.

Major Inter-Regional Coal Trade Flow, 2003-2020 (Mt)