Demand from fast-industrializing China remains strong despite increased wages on the mainland. “Exports remain high because domestic consumption is still small,” Bob Kamandanu told reporters at a Singapore conference’s sidelines.

Meanwhile, “India always needs coal,” he said. Indeed, as China is expected to surpass the U.S. as the world’s biggest economy by the next decade – if not sooner – India is widely anticipated to best China’s 1.3 billion inhabitants as the world’s most populous nation in short order; together, both nations are home to more than 500,000 power plants.

Jakarta, Kamandanu said, has also lifted an export ban on low-grade coal since sector has suffered low prices amid the slowdown beginning in 2008. In the meantime Kamandanu added he didn’t expect to see the export ban reinstated for at least two years.

In addition, Kamandanu forecast for Indonesia’s coal output to close to 400 million tons this year – up from a prior forecast between 370 and 375 million tons based on weather patterns. “The first two months of the year there was a lot of rain and production was less than 30 million,” he added.