IT COULD take half a decade for Queensland's coal exporters to match the revenue they were earning just 12 months ago, during a time when the industry warned it was coming off the boil.
The latest report from the independent Bureau of Resource Energy Economics - considered the most comprehensive in the industry - predicted this year's export earnings from steel-making coal had fallen to $23 billion for this financial year down from $31.6 billion the year before.
Steel-making or metallurgical coal is primarily exported from mines in Central Queensland's Bowen Basin through ports of Hay Point, Dalrymple Bay near Mackay and Abbot Point Coal Terminal near Bowen.
It would now take years before the industry comes even close to matching that, with BREE predicting export earnings will only hit $30 billion in 2017-18.
More coal will be leaving the Bowen Basin mines, as construction wraps up on new projects and upgraded infrastructure from BHP Billiton and Anglo American worth $10 billion.
Taking a national view, the report found mineral and energy exports - that is, all coal, oil, gas, uranium and metals - had fallen by $3 billion in the past 12 months.
But a form of the "mining boom" could continue according to BREE, if mines are dispatching more exports by increasing production.
This is what BREE expects, forecasting exports of energy and steel-making coal plus iron ore to increase each year from now until 2018.
The gas sector - driven by billions of development and infrastructure to harvest coal seam gas - is forecast to quadruple in size in the same period as more than $60 billion in major liquefied natural gas projects are built near Gladstone.
BREE's report described Australia as "the most important country" developing LNG projects able to handle 60 million tonnes of the fluid energy for export.