BEIJING – China's coal output fell 2% in July to its lowest in years as Beijing's crackdown on polluting industries crimped mining in the world's top consumer of the fuel, driving import demand as hot weather boosted thermal power generation.
The country produced 281.5-million tonnes of coal in July, down 2% from the same month last year and the lowest since September 2016, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday.
The drop came as a heatwave scorched the nation, prolonging a hotter-than-average summer and helping push coal imports to their highest in 4-1/2 years.
That underscores the challenge for China as it aims to wean the nation off its favourite fuel as part of its war on smog.
The sizzling weather boosted output of thermal electricity, generated almost entirely by coal-fired capacity and the country's main source of power, along with hydropower.
"Coal miners were not under big pressure to ensure coal supplies this summer since China bought lots of coal from the overseas market while stocks at ports have been at a high level," said Wang Fei, coal analyst at Huaan Futures.
Futures for delivery in January were on Tuesday up 0.32% at their highest since early July.
Chinese coal output over the first seven months of 2018 reached 1.98-billion tonnes, up 3.4% compared with the same period last year, the data showed on Tuesday.
The production of coke used in steelmaking fell 4.3% in July to 35.51-million tonnes, its lowest since December 2017.
Year-to-date output was 247.46-million tonnes, down 3.3%.