China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) has identified 18 coal enterprises for suspected coal price gouging and three trading centers for not adopting government pricing after preliminary investigations, as reported by Sina on August 6. In July, the SAMR sent three investigation teams to probe price gouging in China’s major coal-producing provinces, including Shanxi, Shaanxi, and Inner Mongolia. According to a SAMR statement, the investigation aims to advance regulations on coal price gouging, enhance supervision over coal prices, and limit price fluctuations within a reasonable range.
To ensure a stable energy supply and avoid drastic price hikes, China has designated a range for coal prices for medium and long-term trading in major coal production regions. Last September, a surge in coal prices and power demand along with tightened emission rules led to a two-month power crunch across China. In response, the Chinese regulators ordered some coal miners in major mining regions to cap prices at RMB900 (USD133.2) for a ton of 5,500-kilocalorie thermal coal, down from a peak of RMB1,982 (USD293.3) per ton in October 2021. Moreover, according to a meeting held by the State Council this April, China will raise the domestic coal production by 300m tons this year from 4.07bn tons in 2021 to secure a steady power supply and control coal price increases. The meeting also noted that China will transform 220 gigawatts (GW) of its coal-fired power generation units this year for higher power efficiency and fewer carbon emissions.