BEIJING, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Chinese coal miner Datong Coal Mine Group will gradually move its coal shipments to Caofeidian port from Qinhuangdao Port in the north, an official media platform of the Tangshan city government reported on Tuesday.
The move comes as Qinhuangdao city in Hebei province, the country’s current busiest coal transport hub, aims to adjust its business structure by abandoning dirty commodities and boosting tourism and container shipments.
Coal miners in Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces and the Inner Mongolia region typically transfer coal via road or rail to ports in northern China for shipment to southern regions.
Datong Coal plans to ship in 2019 at least 40 million tonnes of coal from Caofeidian port in Tangshan city, nearly 200 km (125 miles) south of Qinhuangdao but still in Hebei province, and will increase that by 10 million tonnes each year from 2020, according to the government media site Tangshan Laodong Daily.
The company will shift all water transport of coal to Caofeidian port once Qinhuangdao stops shipping the fuel.
Datong Coal, China’s sixth-biggest coal miner by output in 2017, did not say how much coal it ships by water each year. The miner produced 119 million tonnes last year.
Qinhuangdao shipped 214 million tonnes of coal last year, up 34.7 percent from 2016, benefiting from an environmental campaign at rival ports such as Tianjin.
Caofeidian port, which handled 64.95 million tonnes of coal in 2017, has been encouraged to expand its commodities shipment business by building more coal berths. It plans to raise its annual coal shipment capacity to 200 million tonnes by building 16 coal berths by 2020, according to state-owned People’s Daily.
Datong Coal said in a statement on its website that it will participate in the construction of coal shipment berths at Caofeidian port.
“We will keep close cooperation with Tangshan city in port, rail, power utilities and coal transportation sectors,” Datong Coal in the statement.
Qinhuangdao, on the other hand, has been aiming for the past two years to transform into an integrated modern port from one relying on mostly on coal shipments, according to a statement from the Hebei provincial government.
Qinhuangdao city officials declined to comment. Qinhuangdao Port Co did not immediately respond to an email from Reuters.
A rail line connecting Tangshan city centre and Caofeidian port, owned by China Railway, has been completed and is expected to start operations by the end of 2018, said state-backed Xinhua News citing China Railway.
Hebei, China’s biggest steel-producing province, has also been pushing steel companies to move their mills to four designated industrial parks in coastal regions, including at Caofeidian.
“Caofeidian is expected to be a new growth point (of Hebei’s economy) ... and a key place to undertake coal shipment from northern region to the south,” said Datong Coal’s statement, citing a deputy mayor of Tangshan city.
Share prices of Qinhuangdao port plunged 4 percent to 3.36 yuan ($0.4841) on Tuesday.
($1 = 6.9403 yuan)
Reporting by Muyu Xu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Tom Hogue