Coal in China fuelling  the world’s largest nation.

 Coal is an important commodity for China's growth

Did you know that… China is by far the largest producer of coal in the world? Even though the United States is equipped with the world’s largest amount of ‘recoverable’ coal reserves. They are followed by Russia, China, Australia and India. China and the United States are also among the largest coal consumers. China has now become the world’s largest energy consumer but relies on coal to supply about 70% of its need of energy. About five million people are working in China’s coal-mining industry.

Chart 1: Top 5 countries with the major coal reserves in the world

Position

Country

Percentage of the world’s reserve

1

United States

22.6%

2

Russia

14.4%

3

China

12.6%

4

Australia

8.9%

5

India

7.0%

Chart 2: Major coal producers and their percentage of reserve and life of the reserve (by the end of 2012)

Country

Coal production in millions of tons (global production share)

Life (years)

China

3520.0m tons (49.5%)

35

United States

992.8m tons  (14.1%)

239

India

588.5m tons  (5.6%)

103

Australia

415.5m tons  (4.8%)

184

Russia

333.5m tons  (4.0%)

471

Last year China imported 16.6% of its national consumption of coal. Their three largest suppliers of coal are Vietnam, Mongolia and Australia. Every year China uses more coal than the United States, the European Union and Japan combined. Coal power has been the most dominant source of energy used to fuel the rapid economic development of China for the past two decades.The impact on the psysical environment is already significantly visible. China relies on coal power for approximately 70-80% of its energy. 45% of it is used for the industrial sector and the remainder used to generate electricity. By 2013, China comprised 51.8% of world coal consumption.

Map of production of coal in China

Map 1: Shows the production of coal in the Chinese provinces during 2012

The two major coal companies in China are Shenhua Group and China National Coal Group Corporation that own the major coal mines in China. These mines are located in four provinces: Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Hebei and Shanxi. Haerwusu, China’s largest open-pit coal mine, is located in Inner Mongolia.

At the moment China is setting up strategic alliances with their neighbours Vietnam and Mongolia. They invest in their coal mines in order to stabilize the Chinese demand of coal. This can be done by reducing transporation costs. In addition the Chinese government is innovating to generate green energy. The aim is set: they strive to reduce the consumption of coal in China in the next five years.