What is the meaning of the expression ‘to carry coals to Newcastle’?

By Mr. Gideon, Maale Adumim, Israel, (25th Dec.2006).

Newcastle is a place in the north of England and it is well known for its coal mines! So if you are carrying coals to Newcastle, you are merely wasting your energy; you are doing something unnecessary. It is also possible to say ``take coals to Newcastle''.

* Mohan was trying to sell ice cream to the Italians. That's like carrying coals to Newcastle.

* Exporting pine to the Scandinavians is like carrying coals to Newcastle.

* Giving money to Suresh is like taking coals to Newcastle.
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