Investing in coal stocks

A fossil fuel critical to energy production — what to know before investing.

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The coal industry powers the world. But there are some risks when investing in coal stocks — including the rise of natural gas, government policies and fluctuating demand.

What is coal?

Coal is a rock that’s predominantly made of carbon. Its combustible properties make it useful to burn for fuel, and coal accounts for almost 40% of the world’s electricity generation.

Ten countries produce 90% of the world’s coal, with China, India and the United States leading the pack. Despite a growing climate change movement and calls for green energy, the coal demand is forecasted to remain stable into 2024.

Coal stocks are stocks in any companies that mine and process coal for electricity plants and steel production.

Why invest in coal stocks?

China consumed over 50% of the world’s coal production in 2018, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. While the global coal demand should remain stable through 2024, China’s coal demand is predicted to peak in 2025.

High demand for this fossil fuel is likely to bump coal stock prices in the foreseeable future. So although coal won’t be the dominant energy source that it once was during the Industrial Revolution, it’s not going anywhere yet.

Risks of investing in coal stocks

Coal stocks face three primary obstacles:

  1. Government policies. When coal is burned for energy, it produces greenhouse gas emissions. Governments are adopting stronger climate policies to reduce air pollution by slowly phasing out coal power generation.
  2. Competition. Renewable energy, including wind, solar power and natural gas, are slowly edging coal out of the market. For example, coal generation is forecasted to drop by more than 5% every year through 2024 in Europe and the United States.
  3. Developments in China. Being a coal consumer giant, China strongly influences coal demand. China anticipates consumption to peak in 2025, while the International Energy Agency thinks demand could plateau as soon as 2022. Either way, coal demand will steadily fall as China weans off of coal and implements its cleaner energy strategy.

Coal stocks

Many coal stocks trade on the New York Stock Exchange. But certain stocks, including China Shenhua Energy Co. Ltd., are only available over-the-counter or from an international exchange.

Compare trading platforms

You’ll need a brokerage account to purchase coal stocks in Australia. Take a look at a few popular brokers to find one that fits your investing goals.

Name Product Standard brokerage fee Inactivity fee Markets International
eToro (global stocks)
US$0
US$10 per month if there’s been no login for 12 months
Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Yes
Zero brokerage share trading on US, Hong Kong and European stocks with trades as low as $50.
Note: This broker offers CFDs which are volatile investment products and most clients lose money trading CFDs with this provider.
Join the world’s biggest social trading network when you trade stocks, commodities and currencies from the one account.
IG Share Trading
$8
$50 per quarter if you make fewer than three trades in that period
ASX shares, Global shares
Yes
$0 brokerage for US and global shares plus get an active trader discount of $5 commission on Australian shares.
Enjoy some of the lowest brokerage fees on the market when trading Australian shares, international shares, plus get access to 24-hour customer support.
Superhero share trading
$5
No
ASX shares, US shares
Yes
Earn up to 15,000 Qantas frequent flyer points when you transfer an exisiting balance or trade. Offer valid for all new and existing Superhero members until 28 February.
Pay zero brokerage on US stocks and all ETFs and just $5 (flat fee) to trade Australian shares from your mobile or desktop.
ThinkMarkets Share Trading
$8
No
ASX shares
No
Limited-time offer: Get 10 free ASX trades ($0 brokerage) when you open a share trading account with ThinkMarkets before 31 December 2021(T&Cs apply). $8 flat fee brokerage for CHESS Sponsored ASX stocks (HIN ownership), plus free live stock price data on an easy to use mobile app.
Bell Direct Share Trading
$15
No
ASX shares, mFunds, ETFs
No
Finder Exclusive: Get 5 free stock trades and unlimited ETF trades until 31 Dec 2021, when you join Bell Direct. T&Cs apply.
Bell Direct offers a one-second placement guarantee on market-to-limit ASX orders or your trade is free, plus enjoy extensive free research reports from top financial experts.
Saxo Capital Markets (Classic account)
$5
No
ASX shares, Global shares, ETFs
Yes
Access 19,000+ stocks on 40+ exchanges worldwide
Low fees for Australian and global share trading, no inactivity fees, low currency conversion fee and optimised for mobile.
CommSec Share Trading Account
$10
$0 for ASX shares, US$25 for global
ASX shares, Global shares, Options trading, ETFs
Yes
Trade with Australia's largest online stockbroking firm.
Enjoy fast, simple and affordable trades, with market leading research and broker recommendations all in one platform
CMC Markets Invest
$11
No
ASX shares, Global shares, mFunds, ETFs
Yes
$0 brokerage on global shares including US, UK and Japan markets.
Trade up to 9,000 products, including shares, ETFs and managed funds, plus access up to 15 major global and Australian stock exchanges.
SelfWealth (Basic account)
$9.5
No
ASX shares, US shares
Yes
Trade ASX and US shares for a flat fee of $9.50, regardless of the trade size.
New customers receive free access to Community Insights with SelfWealth Premium for the first 90 days. Follow other investors and benchmark your portfolio performance.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Important: Share trading can be financially risky and the value of your investment can go down as well as up. Standard brokerage is the cost to purchase $1,000 or less of equities without any qualifications or special eligibility. Where both CHESS sponsored and custodian shares are offered, we display the cheapest option.

Bottom line

Coal stocks could be a solid short-term investing opportunity. Demand should steadily increase in the upcoming years, but keep your eye on renewable energy and natural gas that’s slowly inching toward a bigger piece of the energy pie.

To invest in coal, compare trading platforms to open a brokerage account.

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