The NSW coal industry has enjoyed a period of considerable growth over the last decade with the significant expansion of mines and rail and port infrastructure. The Port of Newcastle is the world's largest in terms of coal exports, with combined coal terminal capacity of 211Mt/year.

NSW produced 246.8 Mt of raw coal yielding 191 Mt of saleable coal worth nearly $14.6 billion in FY15–16. Open cut mines produced 181 Mt and underground mines produced 65.5 Mt.


Outside the development of greenfield projects through the Strategic Release Framework, a company may invest in the NSW coal industry through:

  • joint venture with a current Exploration Licence holder.
  • equity investment in a current operating mine.
  • share purchase in a listed mining company.


  • The major coal deposits in NSW range from bituminous coking and thermal coals to sub-bituminous thermal coals (brown coal).
  • Export thermal coals from NSW have typically less than 15 per cent ash and 0.8 per cent sulphur.
  • Reduced fine particulate emissions from coal blends.
  • High energy content of Australian coals generally means fewer tonnes for the same energy production.
  • More information on the Quality of coal deposits in NSW [118 KB].


  • Major coal resources are found in the Sydney-Gunnedah Basin.
  • There are minor, but potentially economic, coal resources in the Gloucester and Oaklands Basins.

Fact sheets

Development Process

New areas for coal development are released via the Operation Allocation process or via the Strategic Release Framework. See more information on the Strategic Release Framework.

If economic coal resources are discovered, the project must then pass through the NSW planning process. See more information about projects in the planning process.

The NSW planning process involves a stringent and rigorous assessment, including a detailed environmental impact assessment and extensive public consultation.

Once Development Approval is granted a Mining Lease can be granted. See more information on the mining development process.