China orders mines to up coal production by nearly 100 million tonnes: state media

Beijing (AFP) –


Chinese authorities have ordered dozens of coal mines to expand production amid a nationwide energy crunch, state media reported Friday.

Dozens of mines in China's Inner Mongolia, a major coal producing region, were instructed to increase their capacity by more than 98 million tonnes in an official notice not released to the public, the state-run Securities Times reported.

Nearly 60 percent of China's energy-hungry economy is fuelled by coal, and the country has struggled to wean itself from the fuel despite its pledge to become carbon neutral by 2060.

China has been hit by widespread power cuts that have forced factories to delay production as businesses are ordered to minimize energy usage.

Record coal prices, state electricity price controls and tough emissions targets have combined to squeeze the power supply, pushing over a dozen provinces and regions to announce curbs on energy usage in recent months.

The 72 mines in Inner Mongolia were asked to "accelerate the release" of production capacity, the official Securities Times said, citing the current supply crunch as a likely factor behind the order.

China's coal supply has been disrupted by the pandemic, under pressure from tough emissions targets and squeezed by a drop in coal imports exacerbated by a trade tiff with Australia.

Earlier this month, coal prices hit a record high.

Meanwhile China's power needs in the first half of the year exceeded pre-pandemic levels, according to the National Energy Administration, as demand for factory goods picked up with the rest of the world emerging from Covid lockdowns.

Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng had recently warned fuel companies to make sure there is enough fuel to keep the country running, according to Bloomberg News.