China's coal consumption is expected to hit 4.8 billion metric tons by 2020, the China National Coal Association (CNCA) forecast on Sunday.
Liang Jiakun, CNCA vice president, said the nation's coal industry still has more growth potentials as coal remains its main energy source, which currently accounts for more than 60 percent of the country's primary energy resources.
CNCA data showed that China's coal output increased to 3.65 billion tons last year from 2.35 billion tons in 2005, representing an annual increase of 190 million tons. Consumption in 2012 stood at 3.52 billion tons.
However, Liang said that the sector faces ever more development challenges as the country puts greater emphasis on economic restructuring and transforming economic growth pattern. Meanwhile, ecological environment protection also puts a restraint on its development.
Liang said China has been accelerating efforts to restructure the coal industry by shutting down small coal mines, with the total number of mines reduced to 14,000 by 2012 from 24,800 in 2005.