by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Asian Petroleum Review : Jan-March 2011
Coal has supplied more than 70 percent of China's energy for the past 50 years and that shows no sign of waning. Con- sumption, in fact, has increased 10 percent a year the past decade, despite efforts to close inefficient mines, cut pollution and find alter- native energy sources. Here's a timeline showing China's long history of coal use. * Scholars say China first began burning coal for heat, cooking and smelting steel during the Han dynasty (beginning in 206 BC), but ar- chaeological evidence from the far northwest- ern region of Xinjiang suggests it could have been even earlier. * Marco Polo, in the famous accounts of his travels around China in the 13th century, was surprised coal was so widely used throughout northern China. * 1895: Treaty of Shimonoseki, signed by China after losing a war with Japan, is the first of a number of "unequal treaties" with foreign pow- ers giving overseas enterprises the rights to develop Chinese coal mines. The first mines are used to supply the fleets of foreign navies. * 1931: Japan invades and occupies northeast China, seizing the region's coal mines and steel mills. After expanding along China's eastern coast, Japan eventually takes control of other major coal producing regions. * 1949: Red Army led by Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong takes control of Beijing. With China under an international trade em- bargo, the new government looks to coal to develop its economy, which has been crippled by a decade of Japanese occupation followed by civil war. Apart from a small proportion of mines developed with Soviet help in the north- east, most of China's coal industry remains un- mechanised. Output in 1949 stands at just 30 million tonnes. * 1957: Coal output reaches 131 million tonnes after a large capacity expansion during the first five-year plan (1953-57). * 1958: China plans to more than double coal capacity to 335 million tonnes within five years as part of its "Great Leap Forward" industriali- sation programme, but the withdrawal of Soviet aid and a nationwide famine force Beijing to revise targets. * 1962: Output reaches 220 million tonnes, almost half the level of 1960 when millions of farmers were forced to leave the countryside and go to work in mines, factories and steel mills instead. China's Daqing oilfield, its big- gest, goes into operation in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang. Other big discoveries including Shengli (1964) in Shandong province raise hopes oil will surpass coal as the main source of energy, but output falls short of expectations. * 1966: Output exceeds 300 million tonnes, but Mao's decision to launch the Great Proletarian Cultural Revo- lution soon disrupts Chinese industry and production slips back to 225 million tonnes the following year. * 1978: With total annual coal output already at 618 mil- lion tonnes, third biggest in the world behind the United States and the Soviet Union, China's experiment with capitalist reform is launched, allowing private enter- prises to invest in the coal sector. * 1984: China switches to "guidance planning" system, allowing coal mines to sell surpluses on the market after fulfilling mandatory production quotas. Policy leads to rapid expansion of private coal operations. * 1997: Small "township and village enterprises" account for 46 percent of total coal output, up from 17 percent in 1979, and safety and efficiency problems abound. Gov- ernment responds with first nationwide crackdown on small mines. * 2005: Explosion at Sunjiawan coalmine in Fuxin kills 214 miners, one of the worst disasters in years, prompt- ing another crackdown on unsafe mines and government officials accused of profiting from them. * 2006: New policies are introduced banning coal mines with production capacities lower than 30,000 tonnes a year. Government announces it will not participate in annual coal pricing conferences, allowing individual coal and power enterprises to set contract prices. Annual out- put reaches 2.38 billion tonnes. * 2008: China temporarily bans exports for two months as it struggles with crippling winter shortages caused by blizzards and the forced closure of small and unsafe mines. * 2009: China becomes a net coal importer for the full year for the first time in its history. Total number of mines cut by 40 percent to 15,000 after long campaign to eliminate small players from the sector. *2010: Total output estimated to rise 8 percent to more than 3.2 billion tonnes, according to data from the China Coal Industry Association (Reporting by David Stanway, Editing by Bill Tarrant) China's long love affair with coal BEIJING