Japan’s Marubeni Corporation has agreed in principle to sell Vinacomin, Vietnam’s top coal mining group, up to 2 million tonnes of Australian or Indonesian coal a year and hopes shipments can start in 2015-16. Once in place, the coal supply would be the country’s largest import order.Marubeni also hoped the volume could increase by 2020, Shuhei Tomiyama, head of the metal and resources department at the Marubeni representative office in Vietnam, told Reuters.But he said one of the biggest “difficulties” on the road to a formal contract was the cheap price of domestically produced coal relative to international prices. Vietnam is still a net coal exporter, although this year it imported nearly 10,000 tonnes of Indonesian thermal coal.
Australia’s thermal coal prices, Asia’s benchmark, were hovering above $120 a tonne, compared with Vietnam’s export price for its coal at above $108 per tonne, according to a Vinacomin official quoted in state media.The two companies have been planning to build a major coal-fired power plant in Vietnam’s central region, which will be one of Japan’s largest forays in Vietnam’s power sector after a project in the country’s south and a planned nuclear power plant.
Marubeni’s senior managing executive officer, Mamoru Sekiyama, agreed to the memorandum of understanding on the coal shipments during a visit to Vinacomin’s office in Hanoi, the Vietnamese mining group said in a statement posted on its website.
Vinacomin, or Vietnam National Coal, Mineral Industries Holding Corp Ltd, signed in February an agreement with Marubeni on the construction of a 2,400-megawatt coal-fired power complex in the central province of Nghe An.Under that agreement, Vinacomin will invest in the Quynh Lap plant, to be built in two phases with a capacity of 1,200 megawatt each.The project would be the second with Japanese firms after the $480-million 715-megawatt Phu My 2.2 plant, Vietnam’s first competitively bid build-operate-transfer project that became operational in early 2005 in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province.The plant was built by a consortium led by Electricite de France International and included Sumitomo Corp and a unit of Tokyo Electric Power Co.Coal will take over from hydro power as the leading fuel for new generators in Vietnam in the next five years, state utility Vietnam Electricity has said, while a power master plan projected its thermal plants will need 67.3 million tonnes of coal a year by 2020, when the fossil fuel may account for almost half its power mix. Vietnam plans to build a number of power plants, including coal-fired thermal plants, in coming years as it grapples with rising power demand that has forced it to buy electricity from southern China.Vinacomin is forecasting an increase in its annual coal output to 55 million tonnes in 2015 and would need $1 billion for investment, Chief Executive Le Minh Chuan was quoted in the statement as telling the Japanese visitors on Thursday.Vinacomin has forecast its coal output this year would be 44 million tonnes and in order to keep most of it for domestic use, the government will raise its coal export tax to 20 per cent next month from 15 per cent.French bank BNP Paribas and Bank of China have agreed on a syndicated loan worth $275 million for Vinacomin, a state-run newspaper reported in early April.
In January, Vinacomin said it planned to issue international bonds worth $500 million this year to fund major projects, after delaying a bond sale in 2010 due to unfavourable conditions. Vietnam, so far a net coal exporter, received in June 9,570 tonnes of its first thermal coal shipment from Indonesia, opening up a new supply source, a Vinacomin official said. Vietnam has also imported coal from Australia and has been looking to buy from Russia.
The Southeast Asian country has also decided to award Japan contracts to build two of four nuclear power plants it plans to set up by the early 2020s, Kyodo news agency reported last October.
From / Gulf Today