China could be producing as much as 4 billion tonnes of coal by 2015, up from an estimated 3.2 billion last year, the head of one of China's leading coal firms said on Friday.
Wu Yongping, the chairman of Datong Coal Mine Group, the country's third biggest producer, said despite China's efforts to reduce its dependence on coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels, it would continue to play a dominant role in China's energy mix.
I can't see coal's position in China's energy demand changing very much in the short term, he told reporters on the sidelines of the National People's Congress in Beijing.
He said coal output was likely to continue growing at the same pace as the economy as a whole, and Datong Coal, parent of the Shanghai-listed Datong Coal Industry Company Ltd (601001.SS), was planning to raise output to 200 million tonnes a year by 2015, up from 113 million in 2009.
China is expected to cap energy consumption at 4 billion tonnes of coal equivalent (TCE) by 2015, Xinhua news agency quoted the country's former energy chief Zhang Guobao as saying on Friday.
An energy cap would likely restrict growth in coal output, which accounts for about two thirds of China's overall energy mix, but Wu said there was no conflict between the coal sector and state energy efficiency goals.
The target for production in the coal sector is actually in line with the government plan, he said.
While China will remain dependent on coal for many years to come, the company still plans to diversify, Wu said.
Datong Coal Mine plans to invest 27.4 billion yuan ($4.17 billion) in new energy projects over the next five years, including polysilicon and solar battery production, he said. ($1=6.571 Yuan)