China accounts for 46% of global coal production and 49% of global coal consumption, which is almost as much as the rest of the world combined, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Chinese production and consumption of coal increased in 2012, which marks the thirteenth consecutive year of sustained growth. The rising superpower consumed about four-billion tonnes of coal in 2012 and produced just over the same amount during this time, reports the EIA.

The current rate of production and consumption in China is a marked increased from the start of the millennium when it was at around 1.5 billion t/y, respectively.

Fuelling economic growth

China’s coal consumption fuels its economic growth, owing to its substantial manufacturing capacity and electric power needs. The country’s GDP grew 7.7% in 2012, following an average GDP growth rate of 10% per year from 2000 to 2011.

Meanwhile, the top ten coal-producing countries supplied 90% of the world’s coal in 2012. “China produced nearly four times as much coal as the second-largest producer, the US, which had a 12% share of global production. China has accounted for 69% of the 3.2-billion-ton increase in global coal production over the past ten years,” said EIA analyst Joseph Ayoub.

Domestic coal consumption

Furthermore, domestic coal consumption in China shows an increase of more than 2.3 billion tons over the past 10 years, accounting for 83% of the global increase in coal consumption.

Coal has maintained an approximate 70% share of Chinese consumption since the start date of EIA’s global coal data in 1980. Coal accounts for most of the country’s energy consumption. By way of comparison, coal was 18% of US energy use and 28% of global energy use in 2012.