The coal mining downturn will last longer than expected and isn’t likely to end until 2020, an economics professor has warned.
The dire prediction comes as the Queensland Resources Council lobbies the premier for a range of emergency relief measures to help prop up the state’s ailing coal mines and save thousands of jobs.
Central Queensland University economics professor John Rolfe said the downturn in coal prices was expected to last another four years, which was much longer than previously thought.
“Nobody predicted that the slowdown in mineral energy prices would be as swift or as long reaching,” he told ABC Radio on Tuesday.
“So these sorts of costs weren’t seen as an issue even two years ago.”
However, Professor Rolfe doesn’t agree with reducing royalties to the state government, which is among the measures the QRC is pushing for after a report painted a bleak picture of the coal industry.
The report, by mining sector analysts Wood Mackenzie, found a third of Queensland coal mines are running at a loss, and more than half of the mines producing thermal coal for power stations are in the same position.
Cockatoo Coal’s Baralaba mine has become the latest Queensland coal mine to halt production.
The mine, which went into administration last year, has been put into care and maintenance mode to protect the value of assets while a possible sale structure is examined, the ABC reports.
QRC chief executive Michael Roche has warned 21,000 jobs have been lost in the sector and more of the remaining 60,000 will be on the chopping block unless the state government offers relief.