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Coal Prices at Qinhuangdao Port Rocket
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BEIJING, Jan. 19 -- Coal prices at China's Qinhuangdao port rose to 850 yuan per ton on Jan 18, up 30 yuan from early this month, due to the climbing power coal demand, Shanghai Securities News reported.

Coal price at Qinhuangdao port is seen as a benchmark in the world's biggest producer and user of the fuel.

A strain on supply in Hunan and Hubei provinces sent coal prices there up by 10 yuan per ton, and the increase seemed to continue accelerating, the report said.

"The coal price hike was mainly caused by seasonal power coal demand rise, and may ease up after more supplies", said coal expert Li Chaolin.

According to analysts, China's power coal prices have jumped over 30 percent since the fourth quarter of last year, so most power generators incurred losses from their businesses, which may force the government to cap power coal prices as they did in 2008.

Coal prices on the international market topped to $100 per ton.

Many provinces and municipalities in China suffered record cold temperatures this winter, causing coal shortages nationwide.

Five provinces and municipalities, including Shanxi, Shandong, Henan, Hubei and Chongqing, rationed electricity because of power shortages.

As of January 10, coal reserves in 598 major power plants were decreasing and were only enough to last for nine days. Coal storage in 205 power plants will last for seven days, an alarming level, the National Power Dispatch and Communication Center said last week.

The situation worsened in 11 percent of the power plants which will shut production any time as coal reserves cannot support three days of power generation.

About 80 percent of China's electricity comes from coal.


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