The Queensland Resources Council said that it is cautiously optimistic about what the year ahead holds for the coal industry. According to ABC News, Michael Roche, CEO of QRC, said the record coal export level of 73 million metric tons set in the September quarter could be broken this year. He also said the Chinese, Japanese, and Indian economies are expected to strengthen, leading to continued demand for Australian coal. “We continue to see China grow in importance as a coal customer. We are seeing traditional customers, such as Japan, recovering from a very bad recession and India is growing in importance. They’re all pointers to strong demand for coal and it’s reasonable to expect that exports in 2010 will outstrip 2009 levels,” said Roche. He also pointed to challenges, explaining that the rail system is still under performing.