According to statistics from the General Customs Department, as of December 15 Viet Nam had imported a total 13 million tonnes of coal worth US$860 million during the year, more than four times the targeted 3 million tonnes. Why did coal purchases increase so sharply? Market observers said global coal prices fell strongly due to a sharp fall in demand caused by the prolonged economic downturn and general switch to less polluting fuel. But coal reduction in many countries remains unchanged. In the event, the prices have dropped by than 10 per cent. In August alone the price in Australia’s Newcastle Port dropped from US$84 per tonne to $74. In Viet Nam, the price of coal 11A sold by TKV was $69 per tonne while China sold the same variety for $45-$56 exploited from open-cash mine. Worse still, costs for domestically exploiting coal have also been increasing by 3 or 4 per cent per year due to difficult exploitation conditions.