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Chinese coal group cuts 2024 output forecast

By Reuters

Published : May 22, 2024 - 21:13

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An excavator sift through dunes of low-grade coal near a coal mine in Pingdingshan, Henan province, China November 5, 2021. (Reuters) An excavator sift through dunes of low-grade coal near a coal mine in Pingdingshan, Henan province, China November 5, 2021. (Reuters)

BEIJING (Reuters) -- The deputy chairman of the China Coal Transportation and Distribution Association told a seminar on Wednesday that annual output growth would be in a range of -1 percent to 1 percent this year, having previously forecast expansion of 1 percent.

China, the world's biggest coal producer, mined 4.66 billion metric tons of the fuel in 2023, up 2.9 percent year-on-year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

CCTD deputy chairman Li Xuegang said it will be "extremely difficult" for China's key coal producing hub of Shanxi to meet its 1.3 billion ton production target for the year, dragging down total output.

The tighter supply, combined with expected stronger domestic demand, will support Chinese coal prices at levels of at least 860 yuan ($121.24) per ton, higher than last year, Li said.

Shanxi has had to pause production at many mines for safety checks, following an uptick in deadly accidents.

National coal output in April fell to the lowest monthly level since October 2022.

Li forecast China would add 40 gigawatts of new coal power plant capacity in 2024. That is down slightly from previous forecasts, he said.

The US-based Global Energy Monitor said that 47.4GW of new coal power plants came online in China in 2023.

May coal imports by China, the world's largest buyer, will fall from April's 45.25 million metric tons, CCTD analyst Su Huipeng told the seminar, citing a narrowing price arbitrage, high power plant inventories, and an increase in hydropower generation.

But the industry group did not give a fresh forecast for China's annual coal imports. Shipments stood at 161.15 million tons in the January-April period, a 13 percent increase year-on-year.

China will increase purchases of Russian coal in the coming months, Su said, as Russia's decision to suspend coal export duties from May to August gives a temporary boost.

Still, the increase will be limited because of logistical constraints and western sanctions on Russian coal traders, Su added.

China's decision to reinstate its own coal import tariffs of 3-6% on Russian and Mongolian sellers from January, however, has had a "relatively limited impact" on coal imports, according to Li.