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BEIJING: China is expected to see its coal output to grow further in 2022 after hitting a record last year, an industry body forecast on Wednesday, as the country will need to consume more of the dirty fossil fuel to power its economic growth.

The world’s second-largest economy and its biggest coal consumer churned out a historically high 4.07 billion tonnes in 2021 after Beijing sought to tame the runaway coal prices and to ease a nationwide power crunch in the second half of the year.

“China’s coal output will maintain a moderate increase in 2022,” said China National Coal Association (CNCA), an industry body mainly representing Chinese coal miners, in a report.

Top Chinese officials have said that China will make full use of coal as a vital part of its energy strategy despite pledges of bringing the country’s carbon emissions to a peak by 2030.

The national coal association did not give a forecast of coal output level in 2022. It expected some big and modern coal mines in northern and northwestern China to add production capacity this year and production efficiency at coal mines to improve.

China’s state planner in early March said it will keep coal output at a record level of more than 12 million tonnes a day.

The industry body also forecast that Chinese coal demand will rise, albeit at a slower pace, in 2022, as Beijing has vowed to “strictly and rationally control the increase of coal consumption” to balance energy security and climate targets.

“It is possible that some regions might experience supply shortage in some periods as a result of factors such as global energy supply situation, safety and environmental policies, COVID-19 cases and renewable power generation,” CNCA said.

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