Vietnam's coal output has peaked and industry officials anticipate severe shortages by 2020.
Vu Manh Hung, deputy general director of Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Holding Corp (Vinacomin) said that the nation will experience a six million ton shortfall by 2015.
Five year later, Hung said, the shortage is set to increase tenfold.
Vinacomin has maxed out its capacity and output will range between 55 million tons to 72 million tons a year from 2015 to 2020.
Vietnam, a major coal exporter, imported its first coal shipment from Indonesia, this week, to feed power plants in the south.
Vinacomin said that Indonesian coal sells for about the same price as coal that is mined domestically. Hung added that it's cheaper to import the fuel to southern Vietnam than to haul it down from northern mines.
The country is expected to need 78 million to run its thermal power plants in 2015. Demand may rise, as plans continue to develop to build more power plants.
Some argue that Vinacomin should halt its exports to focus on supplying the domestic market.
Hung argued that Vietnam should sell high-quality coal and import cheaper varieties to power its steel and cement plants.
He said most of the coal Vietnam is exporting is anthracite, a high-quality variety that the country does not need at present. Vietnam also exports a low-quality coal to China which cannot be used in local plants.