MANILA, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Annual coal consumption in the Philippines, one of the world’s fastest growing economies, could rise by more than two-thirds to as much as 35 million tonnes over the next two decades, the head of a local industry group said on Tuesday.
That could be good news for the country’s main coal supplier, Indonesia, and could also stimulate investment to develop local coal mines.
“We’re looking at ... additional (annual consumption of) 10 to 15 million tonnes for the next 10 to 20 years,” said Arnulfo Robles, executive director of the Philippine Chamber of Coal Mines.
The Southeast Asian nation’s coal consumption soared to a record 20 million tonnes in 2014, while imports jumped to an all-time high of 15.2 million tonnes.
The country is counting on dozens of coal-fired power plants under construction or on the drawing board to boost electricity supply and support an economy growing between 5 and 7 percent annually.
That is despite a government push to reduce the nation’s dependence on coal as part of an international shift towards cleaner energy.
The Philippines is heavily dependent on coal imports, mainly from Indonesia, the world’s top seller of thermal coal. Australian and Russian coal are alternatives, but are costlier because of import duties.
Annual domestic output stands at around 8 million tonnes, but around 5 million tonnes is exported as the quality is not high enough for local power plants.
Robles said the Department of Energy is now encouraging power producers to build plants that can run on local coal.
“That’s why we should have more local coal mining companies operating for us to be energy self-sufficient,” said Robles, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a coal industry conference in Manila.
The Philippines still has untapped coal resources estimated at about 2.4 billion tonnes, he said. (Reporting by Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Joseph Radford)