China safety crackdown boosts coal imports

Oct. 3, 2009 at 6:53 PM

SYDNEY, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Australian coal companies say they are exporting to China for the first time as Beijing's latest push for mine safety has cut domestic output.

A new crackdown in Shanxi province has cut production sharply this year, creating the shortage, The Sydney Daily Herald said Sunday.

The shortage is expected to continue, the newspaper said, because Chinese officials appear serious about improving safety and are keeping dangerous mines closed for extended periods.

Around 3,200 miners were killed toiling in Chinese coal mines last year, The Herald said.

That has led to major increases in exports to China of both coking coal and thermal coal, used for power generation.

The bonanza for Australian exporters may not last, however. Industry executives say they are seeing increased demand for coal from throughout northeast Asia that is soaking up surplus tonnage.

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