Northeastern China's Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces granted additional coal import quotas to local power plants and heat suppliers in a bid to ensure sufficient coal supply for the winter heating period.
Jilin has approved to add 5 million tonnes of coal import quotas, which will cover imports from end-October to the end of this year, according to a notice issued by Jilin's Industry and Information Department.
The quotas should be prioritized to local power and heating enterprises, according to the notice, which was issued on October 9 and made public a couple of days later.
The Heilongjiang provincial government was said on October 15 to have added 4 million tonnes of coal import quotas to Manzhouli and Suifenhe border crossings. Manzhouli, China's largest inland hub responsible for more than 65% of trades with Russia, was notified to restore Russian coal clearing immediately after being suspended for 14 days.
The three northeastern provinces, including Jilin, Heilongjiang and Liaoning, now have a total coal capacity of 120 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa). Their coal production has dwindled with increasingly difficult mining conditions.
The three provinces produced only 97 million tonnes of coal in 2019, and are expected to churn out 86 million tonnes this year, according to a report by Inner Mongolia Coal Association.
In comparison, their demand of commercial coal was approximately 340 million tonnes last year, leaving a gap of 250 million tonnes, the report said.
In 2019, the three provinces bought about 160 million tonnes of coal from Inner Mongolia, 26 million tonnes from Russia and 30 million tonnes from Shanxi.
More than 150 million tonnes of coal was used for power generation in the northeast, while 60 million tonnes for heating and more than 100 million tonnes for steelmaking and others.
As a key supplier of the three northeastern provinces, Inner Mongolia this year is struggling to maintain steady and sufficient delivery. The Inner Mongolia Coal Association said some large opencast mines have to stop operation due to tricky issues like land acquisition and environmental protection.
Coal demand of Inner Mongolia itself this year has increased in the meantime along with more ultra-high voltage power transmission projects commissioned.
In the first eight months, Inner Mongolia's coal production was 633.51 million tonnes, down 10.4% from a year earlier. More than 80 million tonnes of coal was shipped to the northeast over the period.
(Writing by Alex Guo Editing by Harry Huo)
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