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Domestic coal sales slow as enterprises buy Chinese coal

VietNamNet Bridge - Coal imports have been increasing rapidly as coal on the world market is priced more cheaply than the domestic product.
VietNamNet Bridge - Coal imports have been increasing rapidly as coal on the world market is priced more cheaply than the domestic product.

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A report from the General Department of Customs (GDC) shows that Vietnam imported 9.7 million tons of coal, worth $600 million in the first eight months of the year.

Prior to that, Vietnam imported 2.27 million tons in 2013 and 3.1 million tons in 2014. 

The import volume soared to 7 million tons in 2015, a sharp increase of 124.8 percent if compared with 2014. 

Vinacomin, the nation’s coal mining group, alone imported 500,000 tons in 2015.

Russia is the biggest coal supplier for Vietnam, exporting coal at $63 per ton on average. Meanwhile, every ton of coal from China is priced at $71.

Explaining the high import price, Nguyen Van Bien, deputy general director of Vinacomin, said the type of coal imported influenced the price.

Nguyen Khac Tho, deputy general director of the Energy General Directorate, said the agency had a working session with GDC to identify the imports from China following questions about imports from China at high prices.

Coal imports have been increasing rapidly as coal on the world market is priced more cheaply than the domestic product.
Vietnam imported 9.7 million tons of coal in the last eight months, including 1.3 million tons from China. This included fat coal priced at over $120 per ton and anthracite $60 per ton.

Tho said importing coal was unavoidable. Up to 80 percent of imported coal will be used for thermopower plants. 

It is expected that Vietnam would import 4 million tons of coal by 2017. The volume will be increasing year after year before it reaches 7 million tons by 2030. 

The high ranking official emphasized that importing coal at low prices was necessary because it helps increase supply and ensure national energy security.

However, the problem is that coal imports cause difficulties for domestic coal exploitation. 

Nguyen Van Bien, deputy general director of Vinacomin, admitted that the mining group has experienced a difficult period in the last nine months, the ‘toughest time in the last 10 years’.

Vinacomin’s coal output is forecast to decrease by 3 million tons this year compared with 2015.

Tho went on to say that Vietnam will continue exporting coal, mostly high-quality products with high export prices.

“One ton of high-quality coal exports can earn enough to import 2 tons of coal for thermal power generation,” he said.

Amid the large import volume of coal and increased taxes and fees, Vinacomin, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Quang Ninh provincial People’s Committee have proposed to the Prime Minister to reduce the natural resources tax.

Vinacomin, which is facing high inventory volume, had to cut its workforce from 126,000 to 113,000 in 2014 and 2015.


Luong Bang

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