San Francisco, U.S. – Coal producers have slashed nearly 40% of their new mine development and expansion plans since 2021, according to new data from Global Energy Monitor’s Global Coal Mine Tracker. Altogether, 895 million tonnes of proposed coal mine capacity has been either outright canceled or gone dark in public reporting, showing no sign of ongoing progress in the past 2-4 years.
Despite the severity of coal’s collapse in much of the world, 393 new coal mine projects, with the potential to produce 1.8 billion tonnes of coal per year remain in planning and incongruous with the 1.5° Celsius targets of the Paris Agreement.
Global Energy Monitor’s survey of coal mine proposals found that in January 2021 coal operators had 432 new mines under development, with 2.2 billion tonnes of capacity in planning, enough to boost global coal supply 30%. Yet over the course of the year, producers reduced their development projects nearly 20% with 325 million tonnes shelved and 102 million tonnes canceled.
But the trend reversed globally in 2022 after intertwined energy crises and high coal prices rallied the world coal supply to a record level of 8 billion tonnes. In the beginning of the year, coal producers in much of the world had continued to scale back projects, axing 209 million tonnes of proposed capacity. But state-owned enterprises and small private firms forestalled the rundown in projects when they mobilized mid year to mine new coal to sustain energy independence.
As a result, global coal producers opened new mines in 2022, especially in China and India, putting 555 million tonnes of new capacity into operation, and proposing a slate of new projects, with 897 million tonnes of new capacity planned for development, a surge that countervailed reductions elsewhere.
The International Energy Agency has stated that no new mines or mine expansions are necessary to achieve Net Zero in 2050, and UN secretary-general António Guterres has said that all planned coal projects must be canceled around the world.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and several partners found in 2021 that coal production must also fall 11% each year through 2030 to keep global warming below 1.5° Celsius. If realized, these new mine projects would necessitate even steeper cuts to coal production in the future.
Ryan Driskell Tate, Program Director – Coal
Email: [email protected]
About the Global Coal Mine Tracker
The Global Coal Mine Tracker is a worldwide dataset of coal mines and proposed projects. The tracker provides asset-level details on ownership structure, development stage and status, coal type, production, workforce size, reserves and resources, methane emissions, geolocation, and over 30 other categories.