Ports in China's southwestern Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region surpassed their counterparts in neighboring Guangdong province to boast the country's largest throughput of coal imports in 2011.
The customs authority in the regional capital of Nanning said in a release on Tuesday that ports in Guangxi recorded a total throughput of over 27 million tonnes of coal in 2011, up 61.3 percent over the previous year and accounting for 15 percent of China's total.
Guangxi is not a coal production region. With increasing demand for power from local industrial users, coal imports have grown fast, as the draught-hit area struggles to meet capacity through hydropower.
China's largest coal producer -- China Shenhua Group Co. Ltd. -- signed an agreement with the Guangxi regional government late last year to build Asia's largest thermal power project in Beihai city. It will boast eight power generators with a capacity of one million kw each in five years.
Zhang Xiwu, chairman of Shenhua, said Guangxi lacks coal mines but has deep-water ports. To ensure industry's supply of raw materials, Guangxi needs to build four docks with a handling capacity of 100,000 tonnes each to allow Shenhua's cargo ships to unload coal sent from the company's mines in Indonesia and Australia.
The customs figures showed that Guangxi's coal was mainly imported from Vietnam, Indonesia and Australia last year. The province's imports from Vietnam jumped by 42.8 percent in 2011 to 11.7 million tonnes. Customs officials attributed the rise to the price advantage of Vietnam's coal.