Vietnam 2015 coal output to rise to 55-58 mln tons: gov't

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Vietnam aims to raise its coal output to 55-58 million tons in 2015 from an estimated 48.9 million tons this year in an effort to meet demand for fast-growing electricity production, the government said.

Output is projected to rise to more than 75 million tons by 2030 thanks to the exploitation of new sites, the government said late on Tuesday in a plan for coal development.

Electricity demand is growing at 7-10 percent a year and Vietnam is having trouble ensuring supply.

Coal will be a major fuel for electricity over the next five years and will account for 47 percent of power generation by 2020, state utility Vietnam Electricity has said.

The country has a dozen thermal power plants under construction which are expected to start operation by 2015.

Vinacomin, the state-run coal and mineral group, plans to import at least 5 million tons of the fossil fuel in 2015, officially starting imports in large volumes.

Vietnam has estimated total coal reserves at 48.7 billion tons by 2011, a government coal development plan said.

In 2020, exploitation will probably start in the Red River Delta, which is estimated to have reserves of 39.4 billion tons, nearly five times larger than the country's main coal site in the northeastern region, the plan said.

However, mining coal in the Red River Delta would be controversial because it is a big rice-producing area and densely populated, and locals are worried about the environmental impact.         

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