The key source of energy in New Zealand is coal. This energy resource has provided this country with supply for energy which is well assured of even in times when hydroelectric power generation is low. The coal produced in New Zealand is not just used for domestic consumption. It is also exported to other destinations. The high quality bituminous coals have high demand in the foreign markets. The amount or content of sulphur in this form of coal is rather low. The very sample of coal has also high swelling ability. As a result, they have varied uses especially in steel manufacturing industries. Moreover, they can be well blended.
In 2009 alone, a total of 4.6 million tonnes of coal was produced in New Zealand. Although this seemed to be a remarkable production, it was characterized by a slight decline of about seven per cent (Solid energy New Zealand ltd, 2002). This production was classified into three categories. Firstly, there was the bituminous coal which accounted for 2.09mt. The other classification was the lignite coal which was about 0.26mt of the total production and finally sub-bituminous coal which was 2.22mt. Both the opencast and ground mines are used to extract these three categories of coal. However, the opencast mine has been the main method of mining coal compared to ground mines.
One of the reasons why the production of coal declined during this period was that there was an industrial action which hampered the mining process at the main mining grounds.
There were four underground mines which were in operation by 2009. At the same period, opencast mines which were actively operating were 18. Much of the production in 2009 was carried out by Solid Energy. The national production of coal was mainly centred in Stockton and Rotowaro. In addition, some mining processes also takes place in West Coast and Waikato.