Coal imports into China, the world’s largest consumer of the commodity, are poised to more than double in the next few years as local production falls, according to shipping company Golden Ocean Group Ltd.

Deliveries of coal to China will come to 450 million metric tons in 2015, Hamilton, Bermuda-based Golden Ocean said today in a presentation accompanying fourth-quarter earnings. That compares with seaborne imports last year estimated at 173 million tons of thermal and coking coal by Clarkson Plc, the biggest shipbroker.

A Chinese government policy announced in November of closing smaller mines amid sliding local output represents “a substantial opportunity for additional import demand, mostly steam coal, sourced from Indonesia,” Golden Ocean said.

The company’s trading fleet includes 32 carriers of dry- bulk commodities, of which 18 are owned, according to its website. Hemen Holding Ltd., a company indirectly owned by shipping billionaire John Fredriksen, holds a 40.5 percent stake in Golden Ocean.

Thermal or steam coal is burned to generate power, while the coking or metallurgical variety is used in steelmaking.

- Michelle Wiese Bockmann, Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.

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