State-owned mining giant Vinacomin Group plans to reduce coal mining this year in order to maintain reserves for national energy security, says Vinacomin general director Tran Xuan Hoa.

The group had targeted to exploit 44 million tonnes of coal this year, 2.8 million tonnes lower than in 2010, Hoa said. This target would allow revenues from coal exports to still post a 10-percent increase this year due to higher prices, he added.

To further enable greater reserves of dwindling domestic coal supplies, Vinacomin would also focus on mining high-quality, high-value coal for export, while importing lower-value coal for domestic electrical, cement, fertiliser and paper production, he said.

Last November, Vinacomin sought the Government's approval to increase coal prices for these four leading coal consumers to levels only 10 percent lower than export prices. The Prime Minister and the Ministry of Finance issued an instruction that prices of coal sold to these sectors should increase gradually until consistent with market prices.

Hoa said he expected the State to soon undertake a further measures for the domestic coal market that would allow all prices to be set by market forces. Meanwhile, a separate plan to increase coal prices for electricity producers would be carried out in two phases. In early 2011, prices would be set based on the 2010 production costs. Then, in the fourth quarter of this year, coal prices for power plants would be set at the same levels applied to other major consumers./.