China's position as a net importer of coal is unlikely to change although domestic supply is expected to increase next year, said an industry expert.
The prediction is based on exorbitant cost of domestic transportation and the current export and import policy, said Jiang Zhimin, vice chairman of the China National Coal Association at an industrial forum held in Jinan, the capital city of eastern Shandong Province.
The economic recovery led by aggressive investment will continue to drive up coal consumption, Jiang said.
China's coal exports declined 50.6 percent year on year to 18.9million tonnes in the first ten months, while imports nearly tripled to 97.68 million tonnes.
To meet the growing domestic coal demand, China established export quotas and lowered import tariff to offset dwindling domestic output after the government shut down a number of illegal small pits.
As a result, China became a net importer of coal for the first time in the first quarter of 2007, with net import hitting 2.91 million tonnes.