THE head of the world's largest mining company has used a speech in America to spruik optimism in coal, at a time when much of the industry here in Australia remains cloaked in gloom.
BHP Billiton chief executive Andrew Mackenzie's comments in Houston, Texas, were upbeat on the future of the fossil fuel heavily mined from Central Queensland and parts of New South Wales.
BHP has seven coal mines in the Bowen Basin west of Mackay and Rockhampton, it owns in an alliance with Mitsubishi.
The coal industry has been hit hard by troubling international conditions which has led to world prices deflating.
But Mr Mackenzie is confident.
He said by 2030, 70% of the world's energy would still come from oil, gas and coal.
And even as the United States continues to fall in love with gas, "coal will remain (Asia's) primary source of affordable energy and the basis of its energy security".
Mr Mackenzie said coal would likely be the switch to allow many of the world's poorest to finally access electricity.
The multinational boss said the company must now focus on cutting emissions to - at least in some way - begin addressing the threat of climate change.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.