In this article we are going to list the 15 largest coal companies in the world. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 5 largest coal companies in the world.
The coal industry is one of the most controversial industries in the world, which may not be as big as it once was, but it is still one of the most important industries in the world as well. While the world, and economically developed countries in particular, have pushed for renewable energy resources to create electricity rather than relying on fossil fuels because of how damaging they are to the environment, coal is still responsible for at least 38% electricity generation in the world, and in 2019, actually registered a 2% increase in the seaborne coal trade. Of the fossil fuels, coal is easily the most prevalent, and accounts for 64% of the total recoverable fossil fuels in the world. Even in 2021, the expectation is that there will be a further increase in the seaborne coal trade, especially due to higher import of coal in developing economies such as Malaysia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Pakistan and Philippines. In fact, these are also some of the countries responsible for the high increase in 2019 coal volumes, with India, China, Philippines and Vietnam being the biggest contributors. The generation of electricity in these countries is especially important because of the fact that they do not have electricity for a vast number of their citizens and globally, over 1.4 billion people do not have electricity. Thus, balancing the need for an increase in electricity generation with a decrease in greenhouse gases emission is a tricky balancing act which the world needs to figure out and soon.
Europe has been leading the way in reduction of coal usage, which is why you will not find many such companies in this list. The negative effects of burning of fossil fuels to produce electricity have been documented for decades and to reduce the usage of such raw materials, these companies have issued regulations to cut down on production of coal to combat global warming and preserve the world for future generations. This is why despite coal being the primary raw material globally for electricity production, its consumption declined in 2019 and its contribution to primary energy was the lowest in the last 16 years. Furthermore, this isn’t an exception to the rule; in the last six years, this is the fourth year that coal consumption has decreased in a year on year comparison. The countries in the Organization for Economically Developed Countries registered its lowest coal consumption since 1965, when records were first maintained regarding coal consumption.
Of course, the vast majority of the world’s population resides in undeveloped and developing economies, particularly in Asia and Latin America, and that is also where the vast demand for coal lies, as mentioned earlier. And even despite international pressure, the coal industry is going nowhere in the near future. Indonesia is the largest exporter of coal, having taken over the mantle from Australia, though you can learn more from the 10 countries that export the most coal in the world.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world in 2020, it flipped everything on its head, including all predictions and forecasts related to any industry. The pandemic has infected over 50 million people and killed more than 1.2 million people, and to combat the virus, most countries across the world went into lockdown to prevent it from causing even further catastrophe. Because of this, a lot of industries came to a half, including the coal industry. Indonesia, being the leading global exporter of coal is a good indicator, and in 2020, its exports have fallen to their lowest levels in a decade. As most businesses across the world were shut for a long time, and with the second wave already forcing lockdowns once again, the demand for electricity by industries fell significantly as well, and the slight increase in residential demand for electricity as stay at home orders were issued only partially offset the fall in demand. Even in July, when most countries had opted to partially or completely lift the lockdown, electricity demand was 5% below 2019 levels, and now that countries are closing up once again as a more lethal second wave hits the world, demand is going to plummet once again, which may lead to overstocking for many coal companies. In fact, there are some thoughts that the coal industry may never recover from the pandemic, which will spell doom for some of the biggest coal companies in the world.
Most companies, which engage in the production of coal, also engage in the production and mining of other minerals, and it is almost impossible to separate them. Therefore, what we have done is considered for our list, all companies which produce or mine or even generate electricity through coal at least as part of their business no matter what other endeavors they may undertake as well. With that in mind, we sought out Forbes to confirm the market cap of the company, its revenue, operating profit and the total assets it possessed as well. All of these companies generate billions in revenue and many of them have assets in the tens of billions of dollars. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the companies most likely to survive the effect of the pandemic on the coal industry, starting with number 15:
15. Anglo American Platinum (JSE:AMS)
Market cap of the company (in billions of dollars): N/A
Total revenue in latest fiscal year (in billions of dollars): 6.4
Total profit in latest fiscal year (in millions of dollars): 1,623
Total assets of the company (in billions of dollars) 6.7
Anglo American Platinum was founded just 25 years ago in 1995, and is based in South Africa. It also engages in the production of other products apart from coal and is in fact the largest platinum producer in the world.