A RESOURCE economist does not believe the global coal price will "bounce back" much for at least five years.
Insight Economics economist Jon Stanford told the Queensland Land Court the global coal economy would grow slowly to the end of the decade but not reach the boom's heights.
The court is hearing a challenge from environmental group Coast and Country against Indian miner Adani's proposed Carmichael mine in the Bowen Basin.
Adani called Mr Stanford to testify on their behalf but in cross-examination with Coast and Country's lawyer Saul Holt, Mr Stanford admitted he did not expect there would be high coal prices for the rest of the decade.
"I'm probably a bit pessimistic on price," he said.
"When we say bounce back I think, on the basis of the reports I see and rely on, it will begin to (bounce back) later in the decade - but not much."
But Mr Stanford, a climate and resource industry expert said he expected India to pick up the slack when China's interest in imported coal declined.
He said he did not expect India to reduce its reliance on coal to combat climate change.
But he agreed with Mr Holt's assertion China was reducing its reliance on coal at a rapid rate.
"There is this theme, isn't there, of underestimating the pace of change in China?" Mr Holt asked.
Mr Stanford said he disagreed that Chinese demand for foreign coal had peaked.
He told the court the international coal market was fragmented with different global areas not competing with each other.
He said major European players such as Poland were unlikely to move into the emerging Indian market.
The case will continue on Friday where environmentalist economist Tim Buckley will give evidence.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.