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Vietnam to import coal from 2012   2008-05-30 - Bloomberg

Vietnam will have to begin importing coal from 2012 to meet rising domestic demand, according to an executive from Vietnam National Coal and Minerals Industries Group, the country’s largest producer.

Shipments from overseas may total 34 million tons a year from that year, said Le Tri Hung, director of the international relations department at the state-owned company, which is also known as Vinacomin.

That compared with projected exports of about 10 million tons in 2010, Hung said by phone from Hanoi.

Vietnam is currently China’s largest overseas coal supplier, and a halt to exports would force the world’s fastest growing major economy to seek alternative producers.

Coal accounts for about 78 percent of China’s power generation.

“We will need to import coal in the coming years if all local power plants run according to plans,” Hung said.

“We may buy the fuel from Indonesia or Australia.”

The state-owned group, which mines more than 90 percent of Vietnam’s coal supplies, produced 41 million tons last year, and exported 23.8 million tons.

Domestic demand in two years will reach 37 million tons, while production may be 47 million tons, Hung said.

Nguyen Khac Tho, vice director of Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade’s energy and petroleum department, said in February that coal shipments to China would drop 32 percent this year and gradually be eliminated.

Coal exports from Vietnam to China may drop to a forecast 22 million metric tons from 32.2 million in 2007, according to Tho.

Vietnam’s gross domestic product, the fastest-growing in Southeast Asia, expanded 8.5 percent last year, the most since 1996.

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