Chinese coal producers say their industry is strong

Despite its very publicized attacks on coal, China may not be headed towards a coal-free future – not even close.

According to the country's Xinhua news agency, the China National Coal Association (CNCA) is seeing coal output and sales stabilizing over the past 10 months, and the price rising.

October sales rose by 1.9% after a 0.3% decline year-on-year since the beginning of 2013, Xinhua reports.

A stabilizing economy and increased thermal power growth might help the black rock recover from low demand and overcapacity.

CNCA Deputy Director Wang Zhanjun predicts that the country might actually record a 3% consumption increase for the year. Last month, CNCA forecasted consumption reaching 4.8 billion metric tonnes by 2020, a 1.3 billion-tonne increase on 2012.

Currently, China accounts for more than 50% of world coal consumption. According to a report by OilPrice.com, the country uses 300% more coal today than it did in 2000.

Although China's air pollution measures include shutting down 2,000 small coal mines over the next two years, it isn't overly-ambitious on reducing its dependence on coal. According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), the country's plans on getting 65% of its energy from coal by 2017, a 3.4% decrease from 2011.

And while the government is cracking down on smaller operations, it's also showing support for the larger ones. In November the government said it would pursue policies to provide relief to struggling coal producers by halting the approval of new small mines and phasing out those that produce less than 90,000 tonnes per year.

Meanwhile, the CNCA sees coal consumption growing by 4% per year, RFA writes.

But Philip Andrews-Speed, a China energy expert at the National University of Singapore's Energy Studies Institute, told RFA that he's sceptical of CNCA's numbers.

"First, we should note that this projection comes from the coal producers, who obviously want coal production to keep rising," said Andrews Speed.