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China becomes a net coal importer in 2009

By Yu Hongyan (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-02-23 13:33
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China's net import volume of coal surged to 103 million tons in 2009, the first time for the country to become a net importer of its staple fuel, the Securities Daily reported today, citing statistics from the China National Energy Administration (NEA).

China imported 130 million tons of coal in 2009, almost twice the volume for 2008. During the same period, its coal exports fell 50.7 percent year-on-year to 22.4 million tons, according to statistics from the General Administration of Customs.

Meanwhile, China's coal output reached 2.96 billion tons in 2009, up 12.7 percent year-on-year, according to statistics from the National Statistics Bureau.

China will remain a net importer of coal in 2010, said Jiang Zhimin, deputy director of the China Coal Industry Association. But Zhou Xi'an, director of the NEA's General Affairs Department, said that coal imports will grow at a slower pace in 2010. China's coal output is expected to grow 5 percent this year.

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The import surge will not hurt China's coal miners, as the import volume comprises a tiny part of the country's overall coal output, said Wu Chenghou, executive director of the Coal Sale and Transportation Association.

China is the largest producer of coal in the world. The United States has the world's largest coal reserves, followed by Russia, China and India.

As of the end of 2006, proved recoverable coal reserves in China stood at 114.5 billion tons, with that of US and Russia came to 246.64 billion tons and 157.01 billion tons respectively, according to BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2007.