While EPA wages war on coal, China coal imports skyrocket

“China’s growing appetite for imported coal has ignited coal prices …

Last week, the benchmark price at Australia’s Newcastle port for thermal coal—the type burned in power plants—hit $108 a metric ton, the highest since October 2008, according to globalCOAL, an international trading platform. Australia is one of China’s biggest coal suppliers.  …

China’s coal imports in March jumped 165% from the same month last year.  …

More than 70% of China’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants, and the country’s power-generating capacity is expected to expand another 10% this year.  …

[L]ast year … China import[ed] nearly 126 million metric tons [of coal] …  China swallowed more than a fifth of the 600 million tons of total seaborne-coal trade last year …  The trend has continued this year, with coal imports in the first three months of 2010 jumping 226% from a year earlier to 44.4 million tons. That is still a fraction of China’s overall consumption, which amounted to 1.4 billion tons of coal in 2008.  …

Suppliers are scrambling to keep up. Vic Svec, head of investor relations for Peabody Energy, estimated that Asia will add enough power plants in the next three years to burn the equivalent of a billion more tons of coal annually, with most of that new demand from China.”  “China ignites global coal market

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