Top energy planners are seeking, in the next five years, to raise China's
coal output to an unprecedented level and, at the same time, reduce the number
of large mining disasters.
China's coal output will be between 2.5 billion and 2.6 billion tons in 2010,
as compared with 2.19 billion tons in 2005, according to Guo Yuntao, director of
the China Development Research Centre for the Coal Industry, in an interview
with China Daily.
The growth rate being forecast by the planning team led by Guo is much slower
than in the last five years, when China's coal output rose from about 1.3
billion tons in 2000.
The forecast was based on the belief that the overall economy will become
more energy efficient and that demand is likely to rise significantly only in
the power sector, Guo said.
His centre is drafting China's coal industry development blueprint for the
coming five years, following the national 11th Five-year (2006-10) Social and
Economic Development Plan approved by National People's Congress (NPC) deputies
at its annual session that closed in Beijing on Tuesday.
The team is providing the final touches to their draft before submitting it,
at the end of March, for approval by the National Development and Reform
Commission and the State Council, China's cabinet.
Guo said coal will remain China's fundamental energy source, both for
production and consumption.
In terms of production, coal accounted for 76 per cent of China's energy
needs in 2005, calculated using the Standard Coal Equivalent (SCE) measure.
According to Guo, that level has a chance to climb all the way up to 80 per cent
To satisfy growing domestic energy demands, the country will decrease its
coke exports in the coming years, the planning director said.
China's rapidly growing economy, which is expected to register an annual
growth rate of 7.5 per cent for its gross domestic product (GDP) this year, will
create enormous demand for energy supplies. But the nation's energy conservation
campaign is just beginning, which should mean more energy efficiency.
China's energy consumption record was an average 1.43 tons of SCE for every
10,000 yuan (US$1,234) of GDP in 2005. This is the same as 2004, despite the
central government's pledge to significantly reduce energy waste from 2006 to
Guo said the coal plan was not only "a blueprint for producing more, but also
a programme for resource conservation and work safety."
Guo said the industry's authorities will try hard to prevent large accidents
particularly ones killing 100 miners or more. "That will be a major task for the
industry," he said.
In stark contrast with planned goals, 2005 was a tragic year as there were
four major accidents. Since 1949, there have been a total of just 22
similar-sized accidents in China.
He said the country will streamline its small-scale coal mines and speed up
construction of 13 national-level production bases, each capable of turning out
over 100 million tons of coal annually. These will be in coal-rich regions such
as Shanxi, Shaanxi, and Inner Mongolia.
Zhao Tiechui, head of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety
Supervision, recently said that China would shut down 4,000 small coal mines
annually over the next three years. "We can keep at most 10,000 or so small coal
mines," said Zhao, who also promised to drastically reduce major accidents
within two years.
China now has 24,000 small coal mines with an annual production capacity
ranging from 10,000 tons to 30,000 tons. They account for 70 per cent of the
total number of coal mines.
Small coal mines have not only led to serious resource waste and pollution,
but also threatened work safety, said Guo. "Closing them down won't affect the
country's overall output," he pledged.
He said the 13 large production bases were enough to help China meet its
(China Daily 03/18/2006 page1)