South Korea’s coal imports hit a new high last year despite government efforts to phase out the use of fine dust-emitting energy sources. The country imported 131.52 million tons of coal last year, breaking the record for the second consecutive year, as reported by Yonhap. Coal imports in 2017 totaled 131.46 million tons. The figure for 2018 marks an 11% increase from 2016.

The monetary value of the imports totaled US$14.65 billion last year, a gain of 8.7% from the year before. It is the highest amount since 2012. The volume increased more than the monetary value as prices rose from major producing countries, such as Australia and Indonesia, cutting back on their supply.

The import price averaged US$ 111.41 per ton last year, up 8.7% from US$ 102.54 the previous year. It is a 60% leap from $68.95 in 2016.

One of the key countermeasures to fine dust is temporarily shutting down or limiting operation of coal-powered plants. A further increase is expected once coal-generated power plants under construction are completed by 2022.