Vietnam Eyes Coal Importation as 2012 Coal Exports to Drop


Vietnam will slash its coal exports by 18.2 per cent next year from this year's projected shipments to 13.5 million tonnes in order to save supplies for domestic consumption in anticipation of new thermal power plants going online in the next few months.

Vietnam is a net coal exporter but will turn into an importer by 2015. Annual exports are forecast to fall to 8 million tonnes in 2013 and between 4 million and 5 million tonnes a year from 2015, Reuters quotes Tran Xuan Hoa, chairman at top coal miner, Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin), as saying.

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Vinacomin exported a total of 12.5 tonnes of coal in the year to September. Its full-year figure is forecast to reach 16.5 million tonnes, placing Vietnam to remain as one of five largest coal exporters in the world. Last year the company profited $1.4 billion from exporting a total of 18.7 million tonnes of coal.

However, Vietnam's Ministry of Finance is alarmed over the rapid pace of Vinacomin's coal extraction and coal exports during the last five years, especially since imposing policies restricting export shipments of the raw commodity for future domestic use. As of September, Vietnam has increased coal export tariffs from 5 per cent to 20 per cent to curb its coal mining industry.

Mr Hoa argued Vietnamese coal is highly valuable and that it would be uneconomical to use it for domestic power production as the country can afford importing coal at $300 a ton.

Vietnam's main coal mining and processing zone is located in Quang Ninh province.

Between January and November, Vietnam exported a total of 15.11 million tonnes of coal, 12.3 per cent down from the same period last year, government statistics show.

In June, Vietnam received 9,570 million tonnes of its first thermal coal shipment from Indonesia. Vietnam has also imported coal from Australia and has made enquiries about Russian product.