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KIEV, January 17 (Itar-Tass) —— Ukraine’s coal mining companies increased coal production by 8.9 percent (6.693 million tonnes) in 2011, as compared to 2011, and reached 81.859 million tonnes as of the end of 2011, the press service of the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.
Besides, the country’s production of agglomerating coal, which is used in the metallurgy, went up by 3.7 percent to 24.859 million tonnes, the press service said. The steam coal output increased by 11.4 percent to exceed 57 million tonnes, the press service said, adding that this sort of the coal is used for the electricity generation.
In 2011, the state-owned mines produced 7.541 million tonnes of agglomerating coal and 30.89 million tonnes of steam coal, the ministry’s press service said.
Proceeding from earlier information, the ministry planned to produce 77 million tonnes of coal in 2011, which is 2.4 percent more than in 2010.
The ministry embraces 20 coal-mining enterprises and five separate mines. In 2010, Ukraine miners raised coal output by four percent, as compared to 2009, to make up 75.166 million tonnes, the press service reaffirmed.
Due to high prices for gas, Ukraine tries to find alternative energy resources, thus considering coal as the best one. For instance, Ukrainian Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Yuri Boiko said on Monday that the country plans to use coal at its thermal power plants instead of natural gas, which will make it possible to save about six billion cubic metres of gas a year.
“It will take about a year to complete the work aimed at the switch-over to the use of coal- water mixture at the thermal power plants of Ukraine,” he said, adding that the work have already been started.
“Now, we develop this technology jointly with Chinese partners,” the minister said.
Last week, Ukraine Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov said that it is more beneficial for Ukraine to use coal at its thermal power plants, than Russia’s natural gas, which the country buys at the price of 416 U.S. dollars per 1,000 cubic metres. “If we speak about the use of coal instead of gas, then it will be more economically advantageous to burn coal,” he said. “However, if the gas price drops, for instance to 220 U.S. dollars [per 1,000 cubic metres], then it will be inefficient to use coal [at the thermal power plants],” the Ukrainian prime minister said.
In Azarov’s words, Ukraine set the task to cut consumption of Russia’s gas this year. “We held related meeting and worked out the list of persons responsible for the implementation of specific tasks. The work is in progress,” he said.
Over the past two years, the government focused on the development of the country’s coal industry, which made it possible to achieve coal surplus in 2011, that reached five million tonnes.