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Global Oversupply of Coal

Unread postPosted: Fri 02 Mar 2012, 10:14:23
by babystrangeloop
Global oversupply to dominate thermal coal in short-term: Deutsche Bank
Platts / March 1, 2012

With regard to major producers in the Asia-Pacific zone, [Michael Hsueh, commodities analyst at Deutsche Bank] said he expected Indonesia to continue a 7% year-on-year coal export growth rate in 2012, underpinned by production growth from miners Bumi and Adaro, noting that Chinese buyers had been largely absent from the seaborne market in January amid healthy thermal coal stocks at Chinese power generators and ports.

Man, I'd be bearish on coal if I were you now.

Re: Global Oversupply of Coal

Unread postPosted: Fri 02 Mar 2012, 10:20:36
by babystrangeloop
China HSBC PMI Shows Manufacturing Shrinks For Fifth Month
MNI / February 29, 2012

"Growth remains flat on weakening new order intakes. Despite the marginal improvement in the headline PMI, lead by quickening production and a recovery of hiring after the Chinese New Year, deteriorating external demand is adding more downside risks to growth in the absence of a strong comeback in domestic demand," said Hongbin Qu, HSBC's chief China economist, in an accompanying statement.

Without so much manufacturing going on as in the past, China must be using less coal, right?

Re: Global Oversupply of Coal

Unread postPosted: Fri 02 Mar 2012, 19:14:55
by SeaGypsy
That would be true, were they not still progressing domestic power use faster than the rest of the world put together. It has been said that for the last 10+ years China has shifted an equivalent population to that of California/ from a very low domestic energy availability(3rd world) to approaching 1st world status. Blackout/ brownout has been a continual problem. I don't think they are about to run out of coal next week, but as put in my price run up/ March floods in Australia thread, you can't take 50 million tonnes a month of black coal out from the market for any period of time there will be trouble.

Re: Global Oversupply of Coal

Unread postPosted: Fri 02 Mar 2012, 19:15:19
by babystrangeloop
Australia Denies Flooding Will Impact Coal Production
Dreama Kween / Reatures / March 2, 2012

The demand for coal was down already due to China's economic collapse; a little rain in Australia would not be any problem. ...

Qinx Jao, ministry of thermatic breathelation was quoted as saying "it is remarkably easy to replace Australian coal by using other suppliers." ...

Re: Global Oversupply of Coal

Unread postPosted: Fri 02 Mar 2012, 19:37:33
by SeaGypsy
This hasn't happened since the massive expansion of coal exports began about 18 years ago. For about 14 of these years the east coast has been in declared drought. Previous floodings of major minepits and breakages of key rail to port connections have been confined to regions within this vast stretch. From my reading of the current situation, both Chinese and Australian authorities are talking down the likely calamity for obvious reasons.

Re: Global Oversupply of Coal

Unread postPosted: Fri 02 Mar 2012, 19:53:42
by babystrangeloop
Sorry, I meant ministry of thermatic briefalation.

US Coal Exports

Unread postPosted: Wed 25 Apr 2012, 14:49:19
by kublikhan
As U.S. coal consumption has fallen, its exports of coal have risen. America's reliance on coal to produce electricity has declined by more than 20 percent in recent years — but in 2011, the U.S. exported coal at a rate not seen in 20 years, according to the AP. And much of the new surge in coal exports comes from Asia and Europe.

Here's a rough guide to who's buying America's coal, based on the AP story:

South Korea: Up 81 percent to more than 10 million tons.
India: Up 65 percent, to 4.5 million tons.
Japan: Up 119 percent, to almost 7 million tons.

The surge in Japan's need for coal is seen as a result of its difficulties with its nuclear and electrical grid following last year's earthquake and tsunami. On the site, energy analyst Gregor Macdonald says Europe also has a large appetite for U.S. coal, with the Netherlands, Britain and Italy leading the way. Other top destinations for American coal were China and Brazil.
U.S. Coal Exports Soar To 1991 Heights

As a percentage of US electricity generation, coal dropped below 40 percent, a 34 year low:

U.S. coal exports to China could more than double to over 12 million tonnes in 2012 thanks to depressed freight rates and a fall in domestic demand in the United States, the chief of top U.S. coal exporter Xcoal Energy & Resources said.

The expected increase in coal shipments could further push down coal prices in Asia where a supply glut following a deluge from the United States and Colombia has forced prices to slump recently.

Coal imports by the world's second-largest economy rose 11 percent on year to 182 million tonnes in 2011. Shipments from the United States were 4.9 million tonnes, a near 3 percent gain on year.

"Demand for thermal coal in the U.S. has been crushed, or eliminated, and the current regulatory environment is really pushing utilities to move away from thermal," Thrasher said separately at the Coaltrans conference in Beijing.

Although still the largest single fuel for electricity generation, coal's share of monthly generation in the United States dropped below 40 percent in November and December 2011, a level not seen since 1978, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed. The EIA forecasts coal demand by the power sector to fall by nearly five percent this year to 884 million short tons, the lowest level since 1995 as the fuel continues to be forced out by the flood of cheap gas following the shale gas boom.
U.S. coal exports to China may double in 2012

The U.S. is the world's forth-largest source of coal exports in the world, after Australia, Indonesia and Russia (1st, 2nd and 3rd, respectively). Unused port capacity on the east coast and major expansions proposed for the west coast mean that U.S. coal exports could rapidly overtake Indonesia and Russia. US domestic demand for coal will probably decrease from the current 44 percent of US electrical production to as low as 22 percent within the next 20 years, according to some analysts. Demand in the U.S. is dropping primarily due to new natural gas reserve discoveries and Clean Air Act regulations.

demand for coal is rapidly rising in Asia. U.S. coal exports to China surged from 2009 to 2010, jumping from 387,000 tons (January-September) to over 4 million tons the following year. Demand for US coking and steam coal also grew rapidly in Japan, India, and South Korea. Industry forecasters anticipate a “30-year super cycle in global coal markets.” U.S. companies hope to cash in on the market and dramatically increase coal exports. exports recorded a more than 25% leap compared to the previous year, 2010.
U.S. coal exports

Re: THE Coal Thread pt 3 (merged)

Unread postPosted: Sat 20 Oct 2012, 06:26:16
by Tanada
Four years ago when the price of heating your home with oil got way up in the range it is right now we were deluged with stories like this one. ... odayspaper

SUGARLOAF, Pa. — Kyle Buck heaved open the door of a makeshift bin abutting his suburban ranch house. Staring at a two-ton pile of coal that was delivered by truck a few weeks ago, Mr. Buck worried aloud that it would not be enough to last the winter.

“I think I’m going through it faster than I thought I would,” he said.

Aptly, perhaps, for an era of hard times, coal is making a comeback as a home heating fuel.

Problematic in some ways and difficult to handle, coal is nonetheless a cheap, plentiful, mined-in-America source of heat. And with the cost of heating oil and natural gas increasingly prone to spikes, some homeowners in the Northeast, pockets of the Midwest and even Alaska are deciding coal is worth the trouble.

Burning coal at home was once commonplace, of course, but the practice had been declining for decades. Coal consumption for residential use hit a low of 258,000 tons in 2006 — then started to rise. It jumped 9 percent in 2007, according to the Energy Information Administration, and 10 percent more in the first eight months of 2008.

I saw dozens of these stories in 2008 about the hardship people in the USA were facing from high heating oil prices.

This year I see very very few of them, and most of those I see are about "poor me won't someone subsidize my heating?".

If 2008 was any indicator those who live outside the natural gas network should be doing things similar to what they were doing in 2008 this year, installing wood stoves, coal stoves, new propane/fuel oil stoves that are higher efficiency...

The near silence on these issues is deafening.

Re: THE Coal Thread pt 3 (merged)

Unread postPosted: Sat 20 Oct 2012, 08:54:18
by Laromi
by Tanada » Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:26 pm
...If 2008 was any indicator those who live outside the natural gas network should be doing things similar to what they were doing in 2008 this year, installing wood stoves, coal stoves, new propane/fuel oil stoves that are higher efficiency...

The near silence on these issues is deafening.

Smoke from chimneys can be a nuisance to neighbours and interfere with normal daily activities. If severe enough, it can be detrimental to people’s health. Domestic firewood/coal/solid fuel typically have 12 to 15g/kg emission factor. Excessively smoking wood / coal heaters cause air pollution which contains fine particles that can affect people’s health.

Smoke from wood-heaters in the domestic combustion of firewood/coal/solid fuel, tend to emit smoke which contains different particles and gases known to be respiratory irritants and known or suspected carcinogens. One significant group is polyaromatic hydrocarbons or PAH’s.

Restrictive smoke regulations and by-laws ensure the big open fire-place or non-catalytic or conventional woodheaters meet a certain, sometimes expensive, criteria. Apart from the US EPA (1996) report, the first (?) Clean Air Act was introduced in Great Britan in1956 as a result of one of the worst environmental disasters recorded in the country when in February 1952, over 4000 deaths in a five day period were attributed to a London Smog caused mainly by home coal burning.

I note that you said - "stoves that are higher efficiency" however, smoke from any wood/coal/solid fuel heater is a difficult problem to resolve because most of them (regardless of their type and technology) will tend to emit smoke at different times. And when combined with all the other air pollutants now available in your neck of the woods, why exacerbate the problem unnecessarily. For some folk a fire may be a necessity but as an excess, no.

I think sticking with oil or electric heaters is the better alternative, main power house-generators are generally more efficient in controlling pollution and distributing energy. However, a big log fire does have a certain charm. :badgrin:

Re: THE Coal Thread pt 3 (merged)

Unread postPosted: Sat 20 Oct 2012, 20:40:51
by Tanada
While they will emit smoke from time to time that isn't the main issue, the main issue is keeping rural people warm in the winter. Even in many suburban area's a properly designed and installed furnace need not be a nuisance to the neighborhood.

Irregardless my main point is the lack of fresh reporting on the issue, last winter was very expensive for my father because the natural gas network ends half a mile from the house. Now that he has passed on I am responsible for maintaining the property until it can be disposed of and the heating bills are a real issue. Not for me, one winter is not that big a deal, but as a selling point to potential new owners it is a real handicap.

Re: THE Coal Thread pt 3 (merged)

Unread postPosted: Sun 21 Oct 2012, 06:53:12
by sparky
Electric heating is a technical obscenity ,
the electricity production for coal fired steam turbines is in the 30% range
the thermal efficiency of burning it at home is around 60% with a good stove
Electricity is fantastic for motive power to use it for heating is a waste
justified only by convenience and the very low cost of the grid electricity

Re: THE Coal Thread pt 3 (merged)

Unread postPosted: Sun 21 Oct 2012, 12:48:40
by Tanada
Further research shows that pelleted coke fueled stoves emit near zero smoke, in the same range as fuel oil burners.

Re: THE Coal Thread pt 3 (merged)

Unread postPosted: Sun 21 Oct 2012, 18:17:36
by Outcast_Searcher
Tanada wrote:Four years ago when the price of heating your home with oil got way up in the range it is right now we were deluged with stories like this one. ... odayspaper


The near silence on these issues is deafening.

Electioneering by the entire MSM is drowning out nearly everything else. (What does leak through is then spun back into electioneering, as near as I can see).

So wait until after the election. If we have a cold winter, you'll hear plenty of screaming of the "who will buy my fuel?" you mentioned in another post in this thread recently (if memory serves).

And why not? We're already essentially bankrupt and making foodstamps a way of life for a huge percentage of the population. "Housing relief" is seen as a RIGHT for millions of irresponsible home owners. Medical care is now a RIGHT, per Obamacare.

It will never happen, but if a John Galt figure showed up and got a sizable portion of the biggest taxpayers to "go on strike", a la "Atlas Shrugged", it might wake a lot of people up very quickly. I'd probably have a heart attack from laughing so hard.

In the real world -- free fuel? Sure, why not? We'll just soak the rich some more -- it's worked so far.

Re: THE Coal Thread pt 3 (merged)

Unread postPosted: Mon 22 Oct 2012, 00:26:39
by kublikhan
There are currently 2 other threads about home heating oil costs. I mentioned in one of them that air source heat pumps are an option worth considering. Traditionally these have performed poorly in cold climates but new models are out that perform better in cold climates. You will probably still want to have supplemental heating for the coldest days, but the heat pump should be able to handle the majority of your heating needs.

Why consider a mini-split heat pump?
*An efficient heat pump can pay for itself through energy savings.
*It's a clean, comfortable, and convenient supplemental heat source.
*Heat pumps not only heat, they cool and dehumidify.

Will a heat pump help me reduce my heating cost?
*At today's prices, we estimate that using an efficient heat pump to supplement your existing heat source will reduce your overall heating costs. Calculate your energy savings using the Cost of Heating Comparison Calculator on the Efficiency Maine Website.

*The money saved each year is expected to be enough to pay for the heat pump in three to five years. Once the heat pump is paid for, those savings go right back into your wallet. The estimated heating cost savings are expected to cover the cost of your heat pump loan. Actual performance will vary site to site, but we expect heat pumps to be a great opportunity for our customers to take control of their energy costs and save.

Heat Pumps

The unwelcome renaissance

Unread postPosted: Thu 03 Jan 2013, 18:03:53
by Graeme
The unwelcome renaissance

WHILE coal production and use plummet in America, in Europe “we have some kind of golden age of coal,” says Anne-Sophie Corbeau of the International Energy Agency. The amount of electricity generated from coal is rising at annualised rates of as much as 50% in some European countries. Since coal is by the far the most polluting source of electricity, with more greenhouse gas produced per kilowatt hour than any other fossil fuel, this is making a mockery of European environmental aspirations. How did it happen?

The story starts, again, with American shale gas. As American utilities shifted into gas, American coal miners had to look for new markets. They were doing so at a time when slowing Chinese demand was pushing down world coal prices, which fell by a third between August 2011 and August 2012 and is below $100 a tonne. These prices make European utilities willing buyers. European purchases of American coal rose by a third in the first six months of 2012.

Does this mean the current surge in coal demand is a blip? Tom Brookes of the European Climate Foundation, a non-governmental organisation based in The Hague, says yes. In 2008 Europe’s utilities had plans for 112 new coal plants. Since then, 73 have been abandoned and nothing further has happened with 14, so he reckons a huge amount of coal capacity will be lost as existing plants are shut down over the next 12 to 18 months. All the same, that still leaves two dozen new plants planned or under construction. Moreover, if you count the number of applications for permits to build coal-fired power stations—as the World Resources Institute, a think-tank in Washington, DC, does—the number of planned new coal plants in Europe is much higher: 69, with a proposed capacity of over 60 gigawatts, roughly equivalent to the capacity of the 58 nuclear reactors that provide France with most of its electricity.

If policies work as intended, electricity from renewables will gradually take a larger share of overall generation, and Europe will end up with a much greener form of energy. But at the moment, EU energy policy is boosting usage of the most polluting fuel, increasing carbon emissions, damaging the creditworthiness of utilities and diverting investment into energy projects elsewhere.


China Makes Clean Coal Scam Profitable - Livejournal

Unread postPosted: Sat 26 Jan 2013, 01:59:32
by audreybaker

global asia energy

Clean Coal.

It's a scam if there ever was one.

We certainly learned this when President Bush's FutureGen project imploded.

The clean coal poster child was put out to pasture after the cost of the plant climbed to $1.8 billion. And that was just to build it. But just when we thought the coast was clear, O-bonehead decided to pump another billion of your tax dollars into the FutureGen money pit. I guess he was looking to score points with environmentalists.

But they don't want that crap, either.

Sure, you can capture and sequester carbon, but you still have dozens of other air and water pollution issues associated with the production of coal. But that's not my hangup with this clean coal technology. There's no form of power generation that doesn't pollute in one way or another. It's the trade off we make in order to live the way we want. And that's just how it is.

My hangup with clean coal is that it makes a ridiculously cheap form of power generation, ridiculously expensive. What's the point of burning coal if it's going to cost three to five times as much? Especially now, since natural gas is practically free at this point.

I actually thought a lot of this clean coal nonsense had died down by now. But then I found out yesterday that Sinopec (NYSE:SHI), the largest oil refiner in Asia (by volume), is looking to invest as much as $1 billion in a new Texas clean coal project.


Although as I read more about the plan, it started to make sense. The clean coal project isn't being pursued to make Greenpeace happy. This clean coal project is being pursued because the carbon it can capture can be used to inject into old oil fields in the Permian Basin to scare out abandon oil that would otherwise just be sitting there. It's not as advanced as some of the more recent oil enhancement technologies, but it's tried and true.

When you break it down, if you combine enhanced oil recovery with clean coal, it could actually be profitable. I guess we'll soon find out. Because I'm pretty sure no Texas oil man's looking to build a clean coal plant just to play a round of grab ass with some EPA bureaucrat.

Stay Greedy!

global asia energy

Re: THE Coal Thread pt 3 (merged)

Unread postPosted: Wed 13 Mar 2013, 09:07:43
by Tanada
Coal consumption in China grew more than 9 percent in 2011, continuing its upward trend for the 12th consecutive year, according to newly released international data.

China’s coal use grew by 325 million tons in 2011, accounting for 87 percent of the 374 million ton global increase in coal use, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Of the 2.9 billion tons of global coal demand growth since 2000, China accounted for 2.3 billion tons (82 percent). China now accounts for 47 percent of global coal consumption—almost as much as the entire rest of the world combined.

More at the website link above. 47% is a heck of a lot, and their electrification plan is nowhere near completed.

Re: THE Coal Thread pt 3 (merged)

Unread postPosted: Wed 10 Apr 2013, 00:10:28
by Keith_McClary
Ontario First Major Industrial Region to Abolish Dirty Coal Plants

The slick "Green Energy Future" video is sponsored by

Re: THE Coal Thread pt 3 (merged)

Unread postPosted: Sat 13 Apr 2013, 02:34:18
by Graeme
China's thermal coal imports to fall in 2013, first time since 2007-8: Goldman Sachs

China's imports of thermal coal could contract in 2013 as demand growth in the seaborne market is expected to moderate to 2% over the next four years, Goldman Sachs warned in a research note on Friday.

"We believe 2013 will represent a watershed event for the seaborne market because we expect import volumes to China to contract year on year for the first time since the global financial crisis in 2007-2008," said Australia-based Goldman Sachs commodities analyst Christian Lelong.

Demand from China, the largest importer of thermal coal, has lifted growth in the seaborne market to an average annual rate of 7.2% over the five-year period to 2012, Lelong said.

China switched from being a net coal exporter with a surplus of 29 million mt in 2007 to a net importer with a deficit of 139 million mt last year, he said.
ndia's coal demand is expected to stay positive over the next few years, but demand from Western markets including Europe are expected to continue on their downward trend, he added.

As a result Goldman Sachs lowered its four-year forecast for Newcastle 6,000 kcal/kg NAR thermal coal prices, saying that the price ceiling for thermal coal imported into China had fallen.

"On that basis, we still see upside to the thermal coal price, but we downgrade our 2013 forecast to $93/mt [FOB Newcastle], down 6% and our 2014-17 forecasts to $95/mt, down 5%," Lelong said.

Goldman Sachs said it expected Newcastle thermal coal to continue to trade in a narrow range of $90-95/mt FOB 6,000 kcal/kg NAR basis for the next four years, after trading below $90/mt for most of the second half of 2012.

Spot prices of Newcastle coal were likely to be constrained by Australian mine production and shipping costs, and by Chinese domestic thermal coal prices, the investment bank said in its note.

It stressed that seaborne supply could not be maintained from Australia if Newcastle thermal coal prices remained below the cost of production and shipment, which Lelong put at circa $90/mt FOB.

Production costs for Chinese miners have fallen on lower domestic consumption, excess production capacity, mechanization and improved rail transportation, Goldman Sachs said. Added to this, electricity demand in China was now growing at less than its economic or GDP growth rate.

"The domestic market is likely to remain well supplied as a result of slower demand growth combined with excess production capacity," Lelong said. "Given the linkage between the domestic and seaborne markets, we expect this subdued outlook for Chinese coal will also weigh on import volumes and seaborne prices," he added.


Re: THE Coal Thread pt 3 (merged)

Unread postPosted: Mon 03 Jun 2013, 11:41:03
by galacticsurfer

Chinese financial website Finet quotes Phil Ren, chief of the China Coal Importers Association, as saying at an industry conference in Singapore, China's coal imports may reach 400 million – 500 million tonnes within three years.

That would constitute massive growth from current levels. China imported 234.3 million tonnes of coal in 2012, which constituted a huge jump – 28.7% – over the year before.

Ren said that the Chinese market is highly sensitive to price movements and would import coal even when it is able to satisfy coal demand from domestic sources.

The China National Coal Association announced yesterday that production in the country reached 3.66 billion tonnes in 2012, up by 4% compared to the year before.

China's coal imports will continue from a more diversified number of sources over the long-term, exerting a major influence on international coal prices, according to Platts, a leading source of benchmark price assessments in the energy, petrochemicals and metals sectors.

James O'Connell, the editor-in-chief of Platts' Coal Trader International, which delivers price assessments for coal trading in the Atlantic and Pacific markets, said that the US in particular will pursue chances to increase its coal exports to the country.

He added that other countries are also expected to export more coal to China, including Indonesia, Australia and Russia.

According to data from Platts, US coal exports will increase from 50 million metric tons in 2012 to 270 million tons by 2016, as the country sees a rapid development of its shale gas resources, with more bound for China and India especially.

O'Connell said: "In the next 10 years, India will become China's biggest competitor in coal imports from Indonesia, which provides thermal coal at the best prices."

The US imported about 40 million tons of coal mainly from Colombia in 2008, but it is now shutting down its coal-fired power plants, and has quickly become a major coal exporter to Europe and China, he added.

The US energy shift is similar to that in other coal-producing countries such as South Africa, which now exports about 62 million tons to Europe, India, Japan, South Korea and China.

O'Connell said the real positive for China is that as nations shift their emphasis away from coal-powered generation, supply choices open up for China, reducing coal import prices.

In the past year, 40 percent of China's coal imports were from Australia and 34 percent were from Indonesia.

It also imported from South Africa, Russia, Colombia, Canada and the US, meaning it has become the center of global coal demand, O'Connell said.

Europe is also expected to see a huge reduction in the installed generation capacity of coal-fired power plants by 2020, as it increases its solar power and wind power consumption, again beneficial for Chinese coal-fired power generation companies, price-wise.

China imported 290 million tons of coal in 2012, a 59 percent rise year-on-year, ranking it as the world's biggest coal importer, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Its average imported coal price has dropped 7.4 percent to $99.5 a ton in the past year.

Meanwhile, it exported 9.28 million tons of coal in 2012, a record low since 1986.

"China has become an important buyer in the international coal market over the past four to five years," O'Connell said.

"Its seaborne coal demand accounted for 20 percent of global seaborne coal trading, which was about 1 billion tons in the last year. China usually purchases its coal when prices are low, but its large purchases, caused by its demand, will continue to push prices higher," he said.

"Thus, we can clearly see a regulated fluctuation of international coal prices in past years."

With China's coal demand from its power generation companies expected to continue until 2020, the country's coal-buying business with other markets such as Australia and Indonesia is expected to rise too.

A decade ago, China produced about 1.4 billion tons of coal annually at an average cost of $11 a ton. Last year, its annual output reached 3.7 billion tons, but the cost for each ton of coal rose to $37.
SYDNEY—The idea of peak oil—the point at which global production reaches its maximum—has fixated the energy industry for years. Now, China is grappling with a new worry: peak coal.

State-run media reported that Beijing is considering capping domestic coal output in the 2011-2015 period, partly because officials worry miners are running down reserves too quickly to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding economy.

"China accounts for around 14% of global coal reserves but its share of global coal consumption is already over triple that at 47%, which is unsustainable," Hong Kong-based brokerage CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets said in a report last month.

Imposing a cap would be significant as China's mining sector is already finding it hard to keep up with domestic coal demand, which has grown around 10% annually over the past decade.

Its net coal imports exceeded 106 million metric tons in the first nine months of the year—higher than the level for 2009 as a whole—and state companies have been aggressively acquiring overseas coal assets to secure long-term supply.

In the three years to September 2010, Chinese companies spent $20.96 billion on overseas coal-sector acquisitions, according to Dealogic.

An output ceiling would also underpin regional coal prices, which are near six-month highs on expectations that China will import record volumes of coal this month and in December.

While China hasn't declared publicly it will impose a coal production cap, the idea is gathering momentum.

Zhang Guobao, head of China's National Energy Administration, said in a speech on Oct. 27 that he doesn't favor the country's coal output expanding above four billion tons a year.

Policy makers are mulling an annual cap of between 3.6 billion tons and 3.8 billion tons in the next five-year plan, running from 2011 to 2015, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported earlier.


This would be unlikely to hurt large state-owned miners, such as China Shenhua Energy Co., 601088.SH -0.10% as they have invested in modern equipment and can generate economies of scale. Shenhua aims to double its annual coal output capacity to 400 million tons in the 2009-2014 period.

However, small mines and township operations will be under increasing pressure. Shanxi province has closed scores of small mines in a bid to improve safety and efficiency, and Inner Mongolia region and Henan province are taking similar steps.

Even if no official limits are introduced, China can't keep growing coal output much beyond another decade, analysts say. The mining sector is constrained by chronic infrastructure bottlenecks, especially road and rail, and those coal deposits that are easiest to mine have already been tapped.

Experts are starting to predict when China's coal reserves will run out—a nightmare scenario in a country where 70% of its energy is derived from coal.

According to BP BP +1.09% PLC, China can only continue at current rates of production for 38 years before its coal reserves are exhausted. That compares with 245 years in the U.S., and 105 years in India.

BP estimates that China had 114.5 billion tons of proven coal reserves at the end of 2009, ranking it third behind the U.S. and Russia. The International Energy Agency says China could have as much as 189 billion tons of coal that it hasn't tapped yet.

Calculating the size of China's coal reserves isn't easy. The government doesn't publish data on discoveries or how much coal can still be recovered from existing mines. Complicating matters further, China's National Bureau of Statistics recently stopped issuing monthly output figures.

In addition, not all coal has the same energy content. That's significant as many new discoveries in Inner Mongolia are of poorer quality than the coal reserves being depleted in Shanxi.

But the strength of China's coal demand, and moves by miners to raise output in step, is worrying the market as well as Beijing.

Even if China's annual coal demand growth halved to 5% then the country would run out of coal in 21 years unless it finds material new deposits, CLSA says, using 114.5 billion tons of reserves as a benchmark.

The picture isn't much brighter when calculations use IEA estimates of China's proven reserves. Annual consumption growth of 5% would see China run out of coal in 28 years, it forecasts.

"With either estimate, it is clear that the rapid increase of coal production puts China's energy security at risk," CLSA says.

Overall international trade in coal reached 1142Mt in 2011; while this is a significant amount of coal it still only accounts for about 15% of total coal consumed. Most coal is used in the country in which it is produced.

Indonesia has overtaken Australia as world’s largest coal exporter. It exported over 300Mt of coal in 2011.

Australia is remains the world's largest supplier of coking coal, accounting for roughly 50% of world exports.

China Coal 4% imports
growth 25% growth total
2011 3660 234 3894
2012 3806 292 4099
2013 3960 366 4325
2014 4120 457 4575
2015 4282 572 4854
2016 4453 715 5168
2017 4631 894 5525
2018 4816 1117 5933
2019 5009 1397 6405
2020 5209 1746 6955

If they want to stop coal production at 4 billion tons then it will be in the next year or two and then the only growth in coal will be from imports which at this rate would be total global imports by 2018 forcing production expansion everywhere to keep up with demand, sort of like the oil market. Massive investments of coal multis in Swaziland, etc and used up mining areas like silesia, Newcastle, etc. and Northern Alaska to keep global electricity growth, purely dependent on coal, going as oil is pretty limited to transport and coal needed for electric and steel production. With huge demand and high proces maybe total global produiction of coal could expand rapidly using cheap indian and chinese labourers sent to Africa, Siberia, etc. in the millions.