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Friday, December 2, 2011

Vietnam's 2012 coal exports to fall, imports eyed

Friday, Dec2, 2011

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam plans to reduce its coal exports next year by 18.2 percent from this year's projected shipments to 13.5 million tonnes, a senior official in top coal miner Vinacomin was quoted on Thursday as saying.

Vietnam is a net coal exporter but it is expected to turn into an importer by 2015, when a series of thermal power plants start operation. It has already started reducing exports to save supplies for domestic consumption.

Annual exports will fall to 8 million tonnes in 2013 and between 4 million and 5 million tonnes a year from 2015, based on an Industry and Trade Ministry masterplan, Vinacomin Chairman Tran Xuan Hoa told the state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper.

Annual imports would be 5 million tonnes from 2015, Hoa said.

Hoa could not be reached on Thursday for comments.

Vietnam has imported coal from Australia and has been looking to buy from Russia.

In June, Vietnam received 9,570 tonnes of its first thermal coal shipment from Indonesia, officials said.

Japan's Marubeni Corp has agreed in principle to sell Vinacomin up to 2 million tonnes of Australian or Indonesian coal a year and hopes shipments can start in 2015-16.

Two sources at Vinacomin said on Thursday the group did not have specific annual import targets until 2015, but small imports will take place.

"We do not have a plan for coal imports next year," a Vinacomin executive said.

"Our subsidiaries may import small volumes in preparation for future imports and that's not our plan... Maybe they will look at nearby suppliers to buy coal," he said without naming any buyers.

By allowing such imports, Vinacomin wanted its subsidiaries to become familiar with the process, another source said.

Hoa said Vietnam could still maintain its exports if the price was in line with global prices.

"In the long run, if our coal prices follow international prices, it is beneficial for the southern region to import coal, while the northern region will run production to meet its demand and export will be more efficient," he told the daily.

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

The northern Red River basin is also believed to contain significant coal reserves but they are mostly untapped as the region is the country's largest rice growing area after the Mekong Delta in the south.

Vietnam exported 15.11 million tonnes of coal between January and November, down 12.3 percent from the same period last year, government statistics show.
(sourced Reuters)

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