In December 2020, the first wave of the Great Australian Coalfield (GAC) came to an end with a single, massive, coal mine located on the southern coast of Australia.
The first coal mine in the GAC had been operating since 1902, and the mine produced the most coal in the country in the early 20th century.
The mine produced nearly $15 billion in value, with almost all of that coming from a large, relatively new export market.
The GAC’s closure in 2020 marked the beginning of the end of Australia’s coal export industry, which had been largely based in South Australia.
It also marked the end for Australia’s second largest coal producer, the state-owned and run Gladstone Coal.
What happened next The first wave to leave Australia came from the Goldfields in South East Queensland.
In September 2021, the mine shut down.
By that point, Gladstone was a major producer of coal in Queensland, but the closure of the Goldfield mine was the start of a major change in the way coal was exported.
The Gladstone mine, with an operating history dating back to 1904, was the second largest in the world, producing over $7 billion in coal exports between 2017 and 2019.
In November 2020, Gladston Coal was acquired by Australian Natural Resources (ANR) for $6.5 billion.
ANR’s management had been in the business for more than 60 years, having been founded in 1924 by former British Petroleum executive Paul Gough.
Gough’s company was one of the world’s largest producers of coal, with over 5,000 employees in the United States, Australia, and Europe.
It was a key player in Australia’s early coal export boom, and it was also one of its largest shareholders, with ANR controlling 85 per cent of the company.
As the market shifted away from coal, the company’s stock price fell dramatically.
At the peak of the GBC, ANR controlled 54 per cent and Gladstone owned 29 per cent.
The stock price of ANR plummeted from $11.50 to $3.40 by 2021, and by 2018, the shares of both companies had lost over 70 per cent in value.
On the other side of the Tasman, in Victoria, a small coal mining company, Hancock Prospecting, bought the Goldstone Mine from ANR in 2021.
Hancock Prospectie had a long history of success in the coal industry, and its coal mine was considered one of Australia