SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Approvals for new coal mine construction in China have surged in 2019, government documents showed, with Beijing expecting consumption of the commodity to rise in the coming years even as it steps up its fight against smog and greenhouse gas emissions.
Long-term cuts in coal consumption are a key part of China’s energy, environment and climate goals, but the fivefold increase in new mine approvals in the first-half of 2019 suggests China’s targets still provide ample room for shorter-term growth.
China’s energy regulator gave the go-ahead to build 141 million tonnes of new annual coal production capacity from January to June, compared to 25 million tonnes over the whole of last year, Reuters analysis of approval documents showed.
The projects included new mines in the regions of Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Shanxi and Shaanxi that are part of a national strategy to consolidate output at dedicated coal production “bases”, as well as expansions of existing collieries, the National Energy Administration (NEA) documents showed. […] Chinese coal output rose 2.6% in the first-half of 2019 to 1.76 billion tonnes.
MORE TO COME?
Industry groups still expect coal-fired power capacity to increase over the next few years, with investments in nuclear and renewables still insufficient to cover rising energy demand.
The research unit of the China State Grid Corporation last month forecast that total coal-fired capacity would peak at 1,230-1,350 gigawatts (GW), which would mean an increase of about 200-300 GW.
A study published earlier this year also suggested China’s targets would allow the construction of another 290 GW of coal-fired capacity in the coming years.