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China’s Q1 coal output rises 16% on strong demand for winter heating

China’s coal output rose 16% in the first quarter from the same period last year, bolstered by strong demand for winter heating and robust industrial activity.

Source: Reuters, by Shivani SinghMuyu Xu

China churned out 970.56 million tonnes of coal between January and March, up from 829.91 million tonnes in the same period in 2020, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Friday.

Production in March alone was 340.76 million tonnes, down 0.2% on year.

While coronavirus restrictions in the first quarter of this year were less stringent than last year’s, output has been curbed by increased safety inspections at coal mines in China following several fatal accidents at mines across the country.

Last year, coal mines were shut in January and February as the coronavirus outbreak forced the government to prolong the Lunar New Year holiday and impose travel restrictions across regions, knocking production during those months.

Coal consumption has meanwhile soared in the first quarter of 2021, driven by a rebounding economy and strong demand for winter heating amid extreme cold weather.

Daily coal use in China’s eight costal provinces jumped by 23.8% as of end-March from a year earlier, according to data from the China Coal Transportation and Distribution Association.

Power utilities and end users such as steel mills are calling for coal miners to ramp up output to meet increasing demand, traders said. 

The statistic bureau on Friday also reported that production of coke, widely used in steelmaking, rose 8.6% on year in January-March to 118.97 million tonnes.

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