Vietnam says has enough coal for several centuries

By Nguyen Hoai   September 1, 2016 | 03:02 am PT
The country also plans to import more coal to meet domestic demand for electricity. 

Surveys of two coal fields in northern Vietnam will be completed in the next few years and the stock could be enough to generate power for several centuries, Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade said at a press briefing Wednesday.

The most recent power development blueprint until 2030 has revised down Vietnam's previous targets for coal output by as much as 15 to 20 million tons due to lower demand. 

  2016 2020 2025 2030
Target coal output (million tons) 41 - 44 47 - 50 51 - 54 55 - 57

Vietnam plans to exploit enormous coal basins in the North. Photo courtesy of

Vietnam aims to complete surveys at North East coal basin in the north by 2020 to ensure sufficient reserves for 2021-2030 and beyond. 

The basin currently has deposits totaling 6.2 billion tons, said Le Van Duan, director of Vinacomin, the state owned coal producer. If 50 million tons is excavated each year, North East can supply enough coal for the next 40 to 50 years. Additional coal may be excavated at the Red River basin, which reserves stand at 42 billion tons, enough for use over several hundreds of years. 

Total investment capital required for the coal sector by 2030 is about VND269 trillion ($12 billion), which is equivalent to $800 million each year.

“This capital is mainly for new investments, renovation and expansions raised from self-financing, commercial loans, preferential loans, securities and other legal sources," said Nguyen Khac Tho, deputy director of the General Department of Energy under the trade ministry.

Tho added that the adjusted blueprint also aims at reducing coal export and increasing coal import to meet household demand and to ensure energy security.

It is estimated that Vietnam needs to import 70 million tons of coal by 2030. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has already approved this, with Vietnam National Coal – Mineral Industries Holding Corporation Limited, Petro Vietnam, and Vietnam Electricity as importers.

The prime minister has also instructed the trade ministry to set up a coal import steering committee to ensure domestic demand is met, said Tho.

By 2030, coal fired plants will take over hydropower as the main source of electricity in Vietnam, accounting for 53.2 percent, as set out in the seventh Power Development Master Plan (PDMP).

Last month, Malaysian company Teknik Janakuasa has started work on a 1,200-megawatt coal-fired power plant Duyen Hai 2 in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh, Vietnam's first such facility to use imported coal. Construction on the $2.2-billion build-operate-transfer plant is expected to wrap up in 2021.

Aside from Duyen Hai 2, there are three more coal-fired power projects in Tra Vinh. Vietnam plans to build several other coal-fired power plants elsewhere in the Mekong Delta such as Hau Giang, Long An and Soc Trang, according to the blueprint.

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