* March output 300 mln t; Q1 dn 0.3 pct at 809.23 mln t
* 1st monthly on-year gain since at least March 2015
* ‘Production will grow faster’ in months ahead -analyst (Adds analyst comment, output details)
BEIJING, April 17 (Reuters) - China’s coal output rose 1.9 percent in March compared with the same month a year earlier, its first year-on-year gain in at least two years, suggesting miners are ramping up production to take advantage of rising prices.
Miners produced 300 million tonnes of coal in March, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday, though for the first quarter output dipped 0.3 percent from a year earlier to 809.23 million tonnes.
“Coal production will grow faster in following months as policy makers put a strong emphasis on securing supplies,” said Zhang Min, Zibo-based coal analyst with China Sublime Information Group said.
Supply tightened last year amid a mounting crackdown on illegal mining as work safety regulators reported an increasing number of accidents from coal mines. China’s top coal producing region Shanxi province launched a new campaign against illegal mining last month.
Prices have gained more than 25 percent since the start of this year. The most active thermal coal futures prices hit a five-month high of 644.8 yuan on April 6.
China’s largest miner Shenhua said in its annual report on March 20 that expected to produce 298 million tonnes of coal in 2017, up from 290 million tonnes in 2016. (Reporting by Meng Meng and Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Stephen Coates and Kenneth Maxwell)