China's coal output edges up in August as mines reopen

BEIJING, Sept 15 (Reuters) - China’s August coal output edged up from a 26-month low in the prior month, as Beijing re-opened dozens of mines and approved several new ones to ensure supply and cool high prices.

The world’s largest miner and consumer of coal churned out 335.24 million tonnes of the commodity last month, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Wednesday.

That compares to 314.17 million tonnes in July and up 0.8% from a year earlier.

Coal production over the first eight months of 2021 was 2.6 billion tonnes, up 4.4% on year.

The country’s mining safety watchdog has been tightening inspections and reining in illegal production across coal mines, following a series of fatal mining accidents.

However, to ensure sufficient supply and meet strong demand at power plants during the winter heating season, Beijing has re-opened 67 million tonnes of open-pit mines in the Inner Mongolia region.

But market participants do not expect the increase in output to fully kick in until late October.

China’s top coal mining province, Shanxi, in early September ordered all its coal mines to carry out a two-month safety inspection, and said those which failed to comply would be shut down for rectification.

Most-active Zhengzhou thermal coal futures contract hit a record high of 1,028 yuan ($159.56) a tonne last week. ($1 = 6.4427 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Muyu Xu and Shivani Singh; Editing by Himani Sarkar)