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China orders coalmines to raise coal production to address power crunch

coal

China orders coalmines to raise coal production to address power crunch

Chinese officials have ordered more than 70 mines in Inner Mongolia to increase coal production by almost 100m tonnes, with the country battling its worst power crunch and coal shortages in years.

The move is the latest attempt by Chinese authorities to boost coal supply amid record high prices and shortages of electricity that have led to power rationing across the country, crippling industrial output.

The proposed increase would make up almost 3% of China’s total thermal coal consumption. In an urgent notice dated 7 October, the Inner Mongolia regional energy department asked the cities of Wuhai, Ordos and Hulunbuir, as well as Xilingol League, to notify 72 mines that they may operate at stipulated higher capacities immediately, provided they ensure safe production.

An official with the region’s energy bureau confirmed the notice but declined to say how long the production boost would be allowed to last.

The notice came after a meeting on the same day during which the regional authorities mapped out measures for winter energy supplies in response to mandates from China’s state council, or cabinet, the state-run Inner Mongolia Daily reported.

“The (government’s) coal taskforce shall urge miners to raise output with no compromise, while the power task team shall have the generating firms guarantee meeting the winter electricity and heating demand,” the newspaper said.

A Beijing-based trader, who estimated the production boost may take up to two to three months to materialise, said: “This demonstrates the government is serious about raising local coal production to ease the shortage.”

The 72 mines listed by the Inner Mongolia energy bureau, most of which are open pits, had previously authorised annual capacity of 178.45m tonnes. The notice proposed they increase their production capacity by 98.35m tonnes combined, according to Reuters calculations.

“It will help alleviate the coal shortage but cannot eliminate the issue,” said Lara Dong, a senior director with IHS Markit. “The government will still need to apply power rationing to ensure the balancing of the coal and power markets over the winter,” she said.

Inner Mongolia is China’s second biggest coal-producing region, churning out just over 1bn tonnes in 2020 and accounting for more than a quarter of the national total, official data shows.

However, that output was down 8% in 2020 and was falling every month from April through July this year, partly because of an anti-corruption investigation initiated last year by Beijing targeting the coal sector, which led to lower production as miners were banned from producing above approved capacity.

The neighbouring Shanxi province, China’s biggest coal region, had to close 27 coalmines this week because of flooding.

Coal inventories at major Chinese ports were at 52.34m tonnes in late September before a week-long national holiday that started on 1 October, down 18% from the same period last year, data compiled by the China Coal Transportation and Distribution Association showed.

Meanwhile, coal consumption is climbing as north-eastern China has kicked off the winter heating season, with major power plants having stockpiles for about 10 days of use, down from more than 20 days last year.

To ensure power and heating supply to residential users, China has reopened dozens of other mines and approved several new ones.

The government has also called for “appropriately” raising coal imports to levels on a par with last year, analysts said, after imports fell almost 10% in the first eight months.

Environment

Alake Unveils Mining Marshals To Secure Mining Sites

In fulfilment of a major plank of his 7-point agenda to create a new security architecture to secure mining sites, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Dele Alake has unveiled a 2,200-strong Mines Marshal to smoke out illegal miners and all those who flout the nation’s mining laws.

Formally receiving the marshals drawn from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) from the Commandant-General, Abubakar Audi, representing the Minister of Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, Alake charged the new operatives to stem theft and all nefarious activities around the nation’s mineral resources so that the nation can reap maximum benefits from its God-given resources.

It will be recalled that as a result of the efforts of the presidential Inter-ministerial committee on securing natural resources chaired by Dr. Alake, the Minister of Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Ojo, a few weeks ago launched the NSCDC-led mines marshal, which represents the first layer of the new security architecture to secure the mining environment.

With a command structure spread across the 36 states and the FCT, the mines marshal will have their command and control domiciled in the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development(MSMD), with an initial 60 operatives deployed in each state and the FCT.

Highlighting the role played by his interior counterpart in the evolution of the new security outfit, Dr. Alake commended Hon. Olubunmi-Ojo for putting words to actions and working tirelessly with the solid minerals ministry to achieve the feat.

“Today’s event of unveiling and formally handing over the specially trained and selected civil defence structure to engage illegal miners and sanitise our mining environment was also part of what we conceived at the inter-ministerial committee chaired by me. I am very happy to let the public know that from the outset we said are going to tackle insecurity in the mining sector and the first batch of the security apparati is what we are launching today, the Minister added.

The mines marshal devised to be an inter-agency security outfit will incorporate special operatives from other security agencies like the Nigeria Police, army, amongst others. Its operations will largely be technologically driven.

In his remarks, NSCDC Commandant-General, Abubakar Audi stated that the new mines marshal will give verve to the corps’ mandate of protecting national assets and infrastructure in which solid minerals is a major component.

Audi revealed that the marshals will liaise with mine inspectorate in states to garner intelligence and take directives from the ministry for effective execution of its mandate.

“We have a list of illegal miners across the nation, and we will go after them. Their days are now numbered, “Audi declared.

The Chairman, House Committee on Solid Minerals, Hon. Jonathan Gbefwi, who graced the occasion, expressed satisfaction with the new security outfit, noting that with improved security around mining areas, Nigeria’s economic fortunes is bound for a forward leap.

” When the Minister reeled out his 7-point agenda during his inaugural address, which included the Mines Police, not a few people were sceptical about it. But today, he has matched words with action. On behalf of the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I doff my hat for him and say, “Well done.” You can be rest assured of the continued support and cooperation of the House of Reps and, by extension, the National Assembly, Hon. Gbefwi said.

The new Mines Marshal is led by a Commander, Chief Superintendent of Corps, CSC Attah John Onoja.

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Environment

NiMET Predicts 3-day sunshine, thunderstorms

There will be sunshine and thunderstorms from Saturday to Monday across the country, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted.

A release on Friday in Abuja, according to NiMet’s weather outlook, forecasts a sunny atmosphere over the northern region on Saturday, with chances of morning thunderstorms over parts of Kebbi and Sokoto states.

“Thunderstorms are also expected over parts of Kaduna, Kebbi,and Zamfara states later in the day,” the agency reports.

It explained that the sunny atmosphere with patches of clouds is anticipated over the north-central cities, with chances of morning thunderstorms over parts of Niger, adding that during the afternoon and evening hours, thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Niger, the Federal Capital Territory, and Plateau states.

It also explained that a cloudy atmosphere with spells of sunshine is expected over the inland states and the coastal cities of the south, with prospects of morning thunderstorms over parts of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states.

The agency envisaged that there would be thunderstorms over parts of Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun, Osun, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Lagos, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers states later in the day and anticipates a sunny atmosphere over the northern region on Sunday, with prospects of thunderstorms over parts of Kaduna, Adamawa, Taraba, Borno, and Bauchi states during the afternoon and evening hours.

It also predicted a sunny atmosphere with patches of clouds over the North Central cities with prospects of afternoon and evening thunderstorms over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Kwara, Benue, and Plateau states, as well as a cloudy atmosphere with spells of sunshine is expected over the inland states later in the day.

According to the agency, there would be prospects of thunderstorms over parts of Oyo, Osun, Edo, Ogun, Ekiti, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, and Lagos states in the afternoon and evening periods.

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Environment

NiMET forecasts 3-day sunshine, haziness

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMet, has forecast sunshine and haziness from Monday to Wednesday nationwide.

NiMet’s weather outlook released on Sunday in Abuja, predicted sunny and hazy atmosphere on Monday over the northern region throughout the forecast period.

It said cloudy skies with intervals of sunshine are expected over the North Central states with prospects of localised thunderstorms over parts of Benue State during the morning hours.

“Later in the day, localised thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Benue and Kogi.

“Increased cloudy condition is anticipated in the morning hours over Inland states of South and coastal cities with chances of morning thunderstorms over parts of Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, Abia, Cross River, Rivers and Delta states.

“Later in the day, localised thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Osun, Ekiti, Ogun, Edo, Ondo, Oyo, Imo, Abia, Enugu, Anambra, Cross River, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Lagos states,“ it said.

The agency said that a sunny and hazy atmosphere is expected over the northern region throughout the forecast period on Tuesday with chances of localized thunderstorms over parts of Taraba and Kaduna stakes during the evening hours.

It expected patches of clouds over the North Central region with prospects of isolated thunderstorms over parts of Kogi, Nasarawa, Benue and the Federal Capital Territory during the morning hours.

The agency forecast localised thunderstorms over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Kwara, Nasarawa and Kogi states later in the day.

It envisaged cloudy skies over the inland areas of the South and the coastal cities with prospects of isolated thunderstorms over parts of Lagos State during the morning periods.

NiMet anticipated localised thunderstorms over parts of Osun, Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Anambra, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Lagos and Delta states in the afternoon and evening hours.

According to the agency, a sunny and hazy atmosphere is expected over the northern region throughout the forecast period on Wednesday.

“Increased cloudy condition with chances of early morning thunderstorms is expected over parts of Plateau, Nasarawa and the Federal Capital Territory during the morning hours.

“Later in the day, localized thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Kwara, Nasarawa and Kogi states.

“Cloudy skies are expected over inland cities of South and Coast with prospects of localised thunderstorms over parts of Imo, Ebonyi, Abia, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Lagos states in the morning hours,“ it said.

NiMet anticipated localized thunderstorms over parts of Abia, Ogun, Edo, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta, Bayelsa, River and Lagos States in the afternoon and evening hours.

The agency called on the public to take adequate precaution as strong winds might precede rains in areas where thunderstorms were likely to occur.

“Temperature values are still high especially in the North, please stay hydrated. Airline operators are advised to get updated weather reports and forecasts from NiMet for effective planning in their operations,” it said.

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