Chinese refiner Sinopec has won the rights to develop a coal mine in the Inner Mongolia region of China for $4.36bn, a company representative said via Reuters on Friday.

The mine will be developed by one of the company’s units, the Sinopec Greatwall Energy and Chemical Company, for the production of coal chemicals, the anonymous official said.

The company will build the mine in Uxin Banner, under Ordos city in the north-western province. The facility will have a planned capacity of 10 million tonnes of coal per year, according to a report by state-run news agency Xihua. Currently, there are also plans for the mine to supply coal to Sinopec Great Wall’s 800,000-tonne-per-year coal-to-olefins project.

It will be the first coal-to-chemicals mine in the coal-rich region and will support the upgrading of the traditional coal industry and extend the value chain, Xinhua added via Reuters.

China expands coal production

Earlier this month, a report from non-profit organisation Global Energy Monitor (GEM) found that global phase out of coal is significantly behind schedule if targets set out in the Paris Climate Agreement are to be maintained.

In its ninth annual survey of the global coal plant pipeline, GEM found that coal power retirements reached 26GW in 2022, with another 25GW expected by 2030. In non-OECD countries, the amount of planned coal-fired capacity fell by 23GW.

However, China’s planned capacity increased by 126GW, far offsetting reductions in coal production and carbon emissions achieved by the rest of the world. It also found that approximately 59% of newly commissioned coal capacity came from China.

China’s coal imports from Australia also hit a three-year high this month, increasing by 151% from the same month last year. Of the 910,921 tonnes that China imported from Australia in February, 740,536 tonnes are thermal grade, typically used in in power plants, and 110,181 tonnes are coking coal, used in the manufacturing of steel.