China’s coal output hit record highs in December and in 2021 as the government continued to encourage miners to ramp up production to ensure sufficient energy supplies in the winter heating season.

China, the world’s biggest coal miner and consumer, produced 384.67-million metric tons of coal last month, up 7.2% year-on-year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. This compared with a previous record of 370.8 million mt set in November.

For 2021, output touched a record 4.07 billion mt, up 4.7% on the previous year.

Since October, authorities have ordered coal miners to run at maximum capacity.

Coal inventory at Chinese utilities exceeded 162 million mt on January 21, or 21 days usage, about 40 million mt higher than the same period last year, the state planner National Development and Reform Commission said.

Meanwhile, China’s 2021 power consumption rose 10.3% year-on-year to 8.31 trillion kilowatt hours (kWh), the National Energy Administration said.