Coal Export Revenue up 186% to $112 Billion as Parliament Considers Price Caps

New research reveals Australian coal export revenue reached $112 billion in 2021-22, an increase on the previous year of $73b or 186%, as Federal Parliament reconvenes to legislate price caps on coal and gas companies making windfall profits, according to a new report From Russia With Love by leading public policy think-tank the Australia Institute.

Windfall profits to coal companies in 2021-22 were between $39 billion and $45 billion. Between $13-23b of this is directly attributable to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The new report follows earlier research from October which found gas exporters reaped windfall profits of between $26b – $40b. Combined, the gas and coal export sectors have received an extra profit windfall of up to $85b. A windfall profits tax could collect 100% of this revenue and be used to transition away from coal and gas, while supporting consumers to deal with high prices, say experts.

Key Points:

  • Coal export revenue up $73b or 186% in 2021-22, with similar forecast for 2022-23
  • Additional coal export profits estimated at between $39b – $45b. $13b – $23b of this is directly attributable to the Russian invasion of Ukraine
  • Combined, gas & coal exports have windfall profits of approximately $85 billion
  • An overwhelming majority of Australians (86%) support a government intervention in the gas industry, either through export controls or a windfall profits tax or both. Just 3% disagree with both measures
  • Eight in ten Australians (80%) support imposing export controls on gas exporters if they do not meet local demand, 7% disagree
  • More than seven in ten Australians (71%) agree the Australian government should introduce a windfall profits tax on gas, 12% disagree

This research shows that while Australian consumers have been hit with surging prices for energy, coal companies have been making windfall profits from exporting Australian coal,” said Dr. Richard Denniss, Executive Director at leading public policy think-tank the Australia Institute.

“This research shows it’s not just gas exporters who have been reaping the benefit of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Coal companies have also been making a killing while households and businesses are slugged with surging prices for Australian energy.

“Combined, the gas and coal export industries have banked up to $85b in windfall profits in 2021-22.

“A windfall profits tax could collect almost 100% of this money for the public. That’s why a wide range of experts including Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz describe it as a ‘no-brainer’.

“This money could be being used to assist low/middle-income Australians with cost of living, and help transition our economy to cheaper, cleaner energy.

“Earlier Australia Institute research estimated windfall profits to LNG companies in 2021-22 at between $26 billion and $40 billion. Adding this to the estimates of windfall coal profits, Australian fossil fuel producers have benefited by between $65 billion and $85 billion in 2021-22 relative to 2020-21.

“The fact that companies are making these record profits while Australians struggle with the cost of living crisis is likely why almost 9/10 Australians support Government intervention to into the energy market, according to Australian Polling Council certified research.”

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