The country will set up a strategic coal reserve to ensure energy security, according to a legislative amendment being drafted.
Building a strategic coal reserve is on the top of a list of 10 articles proposed to be added to the current coal law, Huang Shengchu, president of the China Coal Information Institute (CCII) affiliated to the State Administration of Work Safety, told China Daily yesterday.
The amended Law on the Coal Industry will address such issues as the number of reserve sites and the scale of the reserve, he said.
The country has so far mapped out plans only for oil reserves.
Of the four strategic oil reserve bases, the first two - both located in East China's Zhejiang Province - are already operational with a capacity of 5 million tons each.
Oil will be stored in the two other bases - one in Huangdao of Shandong Province and another in Dalian, Liaoning Province - this year or in the first half of next year.
The amendment to the coal law is scheduled to be submitted to the Legislation Office of the State Council for review by the end of this year and presented for discussion at the National People's Congress sessions next year.
Huang, who is leading a team of the CCII's Laws Institute to work on the amendment, said the reserve was discussed at a meeting chaired by the Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission Ma Kai a few weeks ago.
Wu Zhonghu, a key drafter of China's first energy law, said it is "absolutely necessary" to amend the coal law which was promulgated in 1996.
The issue of a coal reserve is surely worth discussing because of the importance of energy supply to the economy, he said.
Huang said that in addition to the 10 new articles, some existing ones will be rewritten in line with market conditions.
According to one revision, the threshold for mining license application is raised to improve safety.
Articles on coal product processing and industry planning will also be revised to serve the goal of sustainable development, he added.
The country's annual coal output reached 2.3 billion tons last year. Exports were 63 million tons; and imports, 38 million tons.
Coal currently accounts for 70 percent of the country's energy consumption.
(China Daily June 29, 2007)