Sunday, April 25, 2010

China Scours Entire World for Coal

China's international coal buyers are reaching out to coal producers around the world. From Australia, to South Africa, to Russia, to the US, China struggles to compensate for shortfalls in domestic coal production by using imported coal.
China has become a net coal importer, and its import volumes continue rising rapidly. During the first quarter of 2010, China imported 48.2 million tons coal, increasing by 2.4 folds compared with the same period of last year, and accounting for near 7 percent of its total coal consumption. A projected coal consumption of 3.2 to 3.3 billion tons for 2010 could put total net coal import at 150 to 200 million tons for the whole year.
Import volumes of all types of coal except for Anthracite that is heavily used as a feedstock for fertilizer and other chemicals soared up dramatically. Coal import sources were extended to almost all major coal producing regions of the world including the US, Canada, Columbia and South Africa. Indonesia, Australia and Vietnam remained as the leading sources, followed by Russia, Mongolia, South Africa and Canada. Evidently, coastal provinces in China are increasingly relying on import. _Source

While western utilities are attempting to move toward cleaner gasification coal plants and the co-firing of biomass with coal, the top priority in China is energy, clean or dirty -- period.

Up to 90% of China's GDP is being churned into infrastructure building -- much of which is going unused and unoccupied, and will collapse and crumble anyway within 20 - 30 years due to poor construction. An "infrastructure to nowhere", in other words. But it is crucial for China to maintain its economic activity at all costs, for the time being, and as long as China is not at war and is not exporting enough to drive the economy, it must use infrastructure-building as its core economic driver. Thus the frantic consumption of the world's energy and material resources.

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