Vietnam will need to import 3 million to 15 million tonnes of coal a year by 2015, rising to 21 million to 40 million annually by 2020, as new coal-fired power plants are built, Tran Xuan Hoa, chief executive of state mining firm Vinacomin said on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Southeast Asian country, which is the world’s top anthracite exporter, will gradually cut coal exports to 3-5 million tonnes per year, predominantly for metallurgy, a trade ministry official said.
The shift from net exporter to importer comes as Vietnam grapple with a growing power shortfall that has brought chronic blackouts and is widely cited as one of the biggest barriers to foreign investment.
A presentation by Hoa at a coal conference on Monday showed that nine coal power plants were being built in Vietnam and another two dozen thermal plants were planned, most to become operational by 2015.
Vinacomin, or Vietnam National Coal-Mineral Industries Holding Corp Ltd, is expected to export 18 million tonnes of coal this year after shipping 24.3 million tonnes in 2009, Vice Minister of Industry and Trade Le Duong Quang said.
Coal imports would start in 2011 for two alumina projects, he told Reuters without elaborating. In June, a Vinacomin official told a conference in Indonesia that coal imports were seen between 600,000 tonnes and 6 million tonnes in 2014-15 [ID:nJAK343345]. The reason for the difference was unclear. Vinacomin accounts for more than 95 percent of Vietnam’s total coal production, Hoa said.
Much of Vietnam’s future coal-fired power will be in the south, the government plans.
“Vietnam will import energy coal for power plants to be built in southern Vietnam with the volume of 3-15 million tonnes to 2015 and 21-40 million tonnes to 2020,” Hoa said in remarks prepared for the Coaltrans Vietnam conference on Monday.
Most of the imported coal was expected to come from Indonesia and Australia, he said without elaborating.
Domestic supply was expected to rise to 58 million tonnes by 2015 from 43 million tonnes now, and 70 million to 80 million tonnes in 2020, Hoa said.
Domestic demand, however, would outstrip supply, leaping to 56 million to 68 million tonnes in 2015 from 26 million tonnes this year, and 93 million to 114 million tonnes by 2020.
“Only high-quality coal export will continue with a volume of 3 million to 5 million tonnes per year, mainly for metallurgy, as the demand for this type of coal is low in the domestic market,” Quang said.