MADRID, Oct 18 (Reuters) - China’s 2011 thermal coal imports are likely to be around 150-160 million tonnes, having recovered in the second half of the year after a slow start, Phil Ren of China’s Tader Coal SCM Company and Vice President of Northeast Asia Coal Exchange Center, said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the Coaltrans annual conference in Madrid, Ren said China’s thermal coal imports could rise to account for 10 percent of the country’s total consumption - 400 million tonnes - in five years’ time.
China’s coal import levels are hard to predict because China imports more when domestic prices are higher than international prices, but the country in any case needs imported coal for the southeast regions, he said.
“For economic and transport reasons China has to import coal to meet its southeast consumption,” he said.
“Imports could be 5-10 percent of China’s total consumption which is forecast at 4 billion tonnes so therefore 10 percent of that is 400 million tonnes - that’s a lot of coal,” he said.
2011 world total seaborne coal trade is roughly 750 million tonnes. (Reporting By Jacqueline Cowhig; Editing by Alison Birrane)