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China's coal consumption seen rising in 2021, imports steady

03/03/2021 | 04:46am EDT

BEIJING, March 3 (Reuters) - China's coal consumption is expected to continue rising in 2021 despite Beijing's pledges to boost the use of clean energy and curb greenhouse gas emissions, the China National Coal Association said on Wednesday.

China, the world's biggest coal consumer, saw overall consumption of the fossil fuel increase by 0.6% in 2020 from a year earlier to around 4.04 billion tonnes, according to Reuters' calculations based on official data.

"Central government has said it will continue to implement a proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy, and meanwhile offer the necessary supports for economic recovery ... That would push up coal demand in 2021," the association said in a statement.

It also forecast China's coal output would increase in 2021, with the launch of new and advanced coal capacity in major coal mining regions such as Shanxi, Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang. But central Chinese regions such as Hunan and Jiangxi will continue shut down their outdated coal mines.

China churned out 3.84 billion tonnes of coal in 2020, the most since 2015.

Coal imports, however, are expected to remain at last year's level, although the sources of coal shipments will be more diverse.

China has increased coal imports from Russia, Mongolia and Indonesia after Beijing stopped allowing any coal cargos from Australia to pass customs clearance in the fourth quarter last year. Relations between Beijing and Canberra have come under increasing strain amid a series of disputes.

Coal imports totalled 303.99 million tonnes last year, a record high.

The association also expects Chinese policymakers to aim to limit coal consumption to around 4.2 billion tonnes by 2025, compared with the goal of 4.1 billion tonnes set for the end of 2020.

China is scheduled to present its new five-year plan for 2021-2025, which will include a wide range of targets from economic growth to energy consumption, to the national parliament conference later this week. (Reporting by Muyu Xu and Shivani Singh. Editing by Mark Potter)

© Reuters 2021
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