China's daily coal output near annual high, govt continues crackdown on irregularities

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: China Energy coal-fired power plant is pictured in Shenyang, Liaoning

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) -China's daily coal output hit 11.2 million tonnes on Nov. 3, rising around 1 million tonnes from early October, close to a record high this year amid a raft of measures to ramp up production, according to the country's state planner.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) published six statements late on Wednesday and three more on Thursday, showing recent coal production and its efforts in reining in prices.

Coal inventories at power houses across the country had exceeded 112 million tonnes as of Wednesday, up by more than 31 million tonnes from end-September, and have clawed back to the "normal level" in the previous years, the NDRC said.

It also said that with production boost measures to be implemented continually and more coal mines resuming operation after overhauls, China's daily coal output is expected to continue increasing and could break above 12 million tonnes.

China Energy Group, the country's biggest coal miner by production, churned out 50.64 million tonnes in October, up 9.1% year-on-year. Over the first three days in November, its daily production reached 1.77 million tonnes, a record high that helped stabilise the coal market, the NDRC said.

Meanwhile, coal stocks at Qinghuangdao port, a major coal transporting hub in northern China, exceeded 5.1 million tonnes on Wednesday, a level even higher than a year ago, it said.

Coal prices at mines and ports have dropped significantly, said the economic planner.

Producers including Inner Mongolia Yitai, China National Coal Group and China Energy Group had lowered their prices, followed by more than 10 major companies that "proactively" cut their prices of thermal coal of 5,500 kcal to below 1,000 yuan ($156.42) a tonne, according to one of the NDRC statements.

Thermal coal futures on China's Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange have plunged more than 50% from a historic high of 1,908.2 yuan per tonne logged on Oct. 19.

Meanwhile, the authorities continued to crack down on irregularities that disrupt market order. China's top three coal producing regions - Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi - have launched campaigns to probe illegal coal storage sites, said the NDRC.

The state planner also flagged Futures Daily on Wednesday night for the media's "false reporting" on efforts to stabilise coal prices and supplies, and said it would refer it to the relevant department for punishment for inaccurate reporting.

The most-traded January contract of thermal coal fell 0.4% to 936 yuan a tonne as of 1409 GMT on Thursday night.

($1 = 6.3931 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Min Zhang, Muyu Xu and Engen Tham; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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