China’s 2023 coal output hits record high

By Colleen Howe

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s coal output reached a record high in 2023, data from the statistics bureau showed on Wednesday, amid an ongoing focus on energy security and a rise in demand after pandemic-related restrictions eased.

The world’s biggest coal producer mined 4.66 billion metric tons of the fuel last year, up 2.9% from a year earlier, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

For December, output reached 414.31 million tons, nearly flat with November’s 414 million tons and up 1.9% from the year-earlier level.

Daily output over the month was 13.36 million tons, slipping from November’s record high daily average of 13.8 million tons.

The country’s overall power generation, which is dominated by coal-fired plants, rose 8% year-on-year in December.

Analysts are predicting another modest coal production increase in 2024. The rate of growth has slowed over the past year, following an energy security push that drove a ramp-up of output beginning in 2021.

In 2023, domestic production growth was “roughly flat, largely due to safety-related mining suspensions”, analysts at Macquarie wrote in a note, resulting in demand growth outpacing supply growth.

That pushed China’s coal imports higher, to a record high of 474.42 million tons in 2023, the customs administration said last week, as users turned to imports due to rising prices and diminished quality of domestic coal.

(Reporting by Colleen Howe; Editing by Tom Hogue)