China’s economic recovery pushes coal mines to increase yield
Published: Apr 08, 2021 08:14 PM
View of piles of coal on a quay in Rizhao, East China's Shandong Province
Photo: cnsphoto

View of piles of coal on a quay in Rizhao, East China's Shandong Province Photo: cnsphoto

China's fast economic rebound from coronavirus has driven up electricity demand, leading to higher consumption of coal which is seeing rising prices, an energy expert said following a meeting requiring coal plants to increase production to the maximum level.

The nation's top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) convened a meeting of the coal department of the National Energy Administration, China Railway, state-owned generators, coal miners Shenhua China and China Coal Group, the world's largest public coal terminal Qinhuangdao Port, and relevant associations on Wednesday, futures news site reported, citing people familiar with the matter. 

The power generators said that coal prices are elevated, with the average exceeding 760 yuan ($116) per ton, according to the report. Coal inventories are low but daily consumption is high, and some companies said they desperately need coal for later this month and in May. 

Some coal giants said that coal output in the first quarter rose 15 percent year-on-year, said. 

"China's brisk economy drove up power demand, causing tight coal supplies and rising prices," Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Even though renewable energy for power generation is frequently discussed in relation to China's carbon neutrality goal, Lin said that the contribution of such sources remains small. 

In the first two months of 2020, electricity use in regions served by State Grid Corp of China grew 21.3 percent year-on-year, showing that China's economy was firing on all cylinders. 

Lin added that there is no coal shortage at present as China's production capacity is enough, even if coal imports - which play a supplementary role - dropped in the first two months. 

Official data revealed China's coal imports dived 39.5 percent year-on-year to 41.126 million tons in January and February. 

At Wednesday's meeting, the NDRC told companies to increase coal production and set targets for them. It also said that coal prices should be stabilized and that producers should avoid price hikes, reported. 

Coal imports should serve the domestic economy, the commission added. 

Separately, the national coal transportation and distribution association summoned 12 companies on Thursday to learn about the coal market in Northeast China and the eastern part of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. 

Some companies vowed to strengthen the monitoring of coal demand, output and shipments, and they vowed to enhance emergency supplies of the fossil fuel.