China’s nuclear war on coal – by Frik Els ( – June 23, 2016)

Beijing’s already cut coal miners working hours by 16% and plans to eliminate 500 million tonnes of coal capacity within just 3–5 years

After 13 years of rapid growth, China burns more coal than the rest of the world combined. The country was responsible for more than 80% of global growth in coal usage since the start of the century.

Even these numbers were upped in a recent study by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) that showed energy-content-based coal consumption from 2000 to 2013 was up to 14% higher than previously reported at nearly 4.5 billion tonnes, while coal production was up to 7% higher.

But the growth stopped abruptly and started to reverse in 2014 when energy-content-based coal consumption remained flat and production declined by 2.6%. The downtrend is even more noticeable with Chinese imports which last year tanked by 30% to 204 million tonnes and has continued to shrink in 2016.

Given the slump in domestic demand, a new report by metals and mining research company CRU examines the likelihood of China becoming a net exporter of coal. The London-based firm concludes it’s unlikely to happen over the next five years – not least because China’s coal miners are not cost competitive on the seaborne market (see graph).

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