Coal in the latter half of the 20th Century

In the late 1970s a very favourable policy climate for coal led to the restructuring of production and demand patterns globally and the expansion of production and trade in steam coal. Among the policies and conditions leading to this, the IEA has singled out significant steps along the way such as the establishment of Principles for IEA Action on coal of May 1979, and the establishment on the Coal Industry advisory board, which first met in April1980 “…to provide practical advice on how the objective of doubling coal production and use by 1990 and tripling it by the end of the century is to be achieved”.

Other circumstances affecting the level and composition of production and trade, and which involved government policy initiatives or responses, include:

Formation of the European coal and steel community, 1951, and subsequent decisions on assistance to coal production in Europe, 1965 and 1971 (allowing subsidies to reduce productions), 1976 (to stabilise production),

1986, to improve the economies of production while offsetting social and regional problems.

Long-term contractual commitments between Japanese steel mills and Canadian producers late 1960s. Commitments between Japanese steel mills and South African producers, resulting in the construction of the Richards Bay Rail Line and Tort, mid 1970s.

Oil price rises 1973 and 1979; oil price collapse, 1985-86 the rises and a peak in early 2008 then collapse during the economic downturn.

US miners, and railroad employees’ disputes, 1978; miners’ strike, 1993. Favourable policies on foreign investment in Indonesia, 1981.

UK miners’ strike, 1983-1984.

International sanctions against trade with South Africa, 1986-1993. Over optimistic forecasts of coal demand, late 1970s early 1980s. Coal industry restructuring in Australia, mid-1980s.

Decline in production in Poland and the former Soviet Union, from 1980.

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