Chinese coal consumption, production almost match the rest of the world’s

Coal consumption and production in China rose in 2012 for the 13th year in a row, almost reaching the amount of the rest of the world combined, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported.

China is, by far, the largest consumer and producer of coal.

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The country consumed 4.15 billion short tons of coal in 2012, the most recent year for which the EIA has data, the agency said Wednesday. That accounts for 49 percent of global consumption.

China produced 4.03 billion short tons of coal in 2012, or 46 percent of the world’s total.

“As a manufacturing country that has large electric power requirements, China's coal consumption fuels its economic growth,” the EIA said in its report. China’s gross domestic product grew 7.7 percent in 2012, following 11 years when it averaged 10 percent growth annually.

Coal has given China at least 70 percent of its energy since EIA records began in 1980. That compares with 28 percent of the world’s energy and 18 percent in the United States.

The U.S. is a distant second to China in coal, consuming 889 million short tons and producing 1.02 billion short tons in 2012, EIA figures show.