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BEIJING: China’s coal output rose by 5.8% in the first two months of 2023 from the same period a year earlier, government data showed on Wednesday, as new mining capacity came online and Beijing encouraged miners to boost production to improve energy security.

China, the world’s biggest coal miner and consumer, produced 734.23 million tonnes of the fuel during the January-February period, up from 686.6 million tonnes in the same period in 2022, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

That’s equivalent to 12.44 million tonnes per day, down from 12.99 million tonnes per day in December, as coal mines lowered operation rates or even shut down during the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, which fell in late January this year.

The statistics bureau combines data for January and February because of the national holiday. A sharp increase in global coal prices and disruption of energy supply chains following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted Beijing to increasingly prioritise energy security. Miners ramped up output in anticipation of improving demand following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions at the end of last year.

The government last year approved 260 million tonnes of new coal mining capacity and reopened a number of previously mothballed mines.

Shanxi and Inner Mongolia, China’s top two mining hubs by production, have vowed to lift output by at least 5% and 2% this year, respectively.

Safety-related closures only had a modest impact on output. Governments in several key coal producing regions, such as Inner Mongolia, Shanxi and Shaanxi, ordered snap safety checks and inspections at open pit coal mines after the collapse of an open-pit mine in Inner Mongolia last month.

Most coal mines resumed normal operations in early March, two industry sources said. In the January-February period, China produced 77.63 million tonnes of coke, up 3.2% from a year earlier, the NBS data showed.

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