Oil prices have finally crossed the $130 line and are heading for further records. And as OPEC ministers say they cannot halt the trend – they’d be stupid to keep prices down, wouldn’t they? – coal becomes more and more attractive again, even in countries where coal production has been declining for decades due to high extraction and labor costs. Japan now rediscovers its domestic coal reserves. Japanese mines are back in business again, they’re competitive and full of hope for a better future after going through a dry spell for a very long time. Although Japan’s domestic supplies are too tiny to have a considerable effect on the country’s reliance on imports, the business is profitable.
But gearing up prodution is not easy as Japan lacks of mining experts and miners today. Besides, environmental regulations hamper expansion.
Despite the revival of some mines, global coal reserves are limited and production will decrease after reaching its peak in 2030, according to the Energy Watch Group, a global coalition of scientists. The Group reports that global coal reserves are smaller than generally anticipated. The wrong estimates were based on outdated statistics and an underestimated increase in global coal consumption.