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BEIJING, April 18 (Reuters) - China's coal output rose 15% in March from the same month a year ago, with daily production climbing to a record, as Beijing urged miners to crank up operations to ensure steady market supply.
China churned out 395.79 million tonnes of coal last month, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Monday, equivalent to 12.77 million tonnes per day.
That compares with 10.99 million tonnes per day in March 2021, and 11.64 million tonnes per day for the first two months of 2022.
China has targeted daily coal production at 12.6 million tonnes this year, as Beijing has prioritised energy security in the wake of geopolitical uncertainties caused by the Ukraine conflict.
Output over the first quarter of the year reached 1.08 billion tonnes, up 10% on the year, NBS data showed.
Coal inventories at major utilities in eight coastal provinces totalled 28.18 million tonnes in early April, according to analysts from Changjiang Securities, about 6 million tonnes higher than the same period last year.
But coal consumption at the utilities was 12% lower than a year ago, partly reflecting lockdowns, factories suspending operations and restrictions on mobility in cities like Shanghai, where COVID-19 infections have flared up.
The anti-COVID measures also affected production and transportation at some mines in Shanxi, the major coal mining region. Analysts from Guangfa Futures said utilisation rates at coking coal mines in Shanxi fell by 1.5% in early April from late-March.
Some coal industry officials have expressed concern that China might not maintain record output for long, as some mines that were ordered to expand production since December are not able to sustain operations.
(Reporting by Muyu Xu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)
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