April 17, 2018 / 2:41 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-China's March coal output at lowest level since Oct on falling prices

* China’s coal output at 290 million tonnes in March

* That marks lowest since October

* But was up 1.3 percent from same month in 2017 (Adds detail)

BEIJING, April 17 (Reuters) - China’s coal production in March fell to its lowest since October, data showed on Tuesday, as miners in the world’s top consumer of the fuel scaled back operations amid falling prices.

The country’s coal output came in at 290 million tonnes in March, according to data from the National Statistics Bureau, although that marked a 1.3-percent rise from the same month last year.

The monthly decline came as local coal prices were down about 20 percent from records hit in January, with warmer weather crimping demand from utilities.

The data showed Chinese coal output for the January-March period grew to 804.5 million tonnes, up 3.9 percent from the same time last year.

Adding to worries of potential oversupply, China has approved five large-scale new coal mines since January. Traders and analysts said new supply from these mines could put further downward pressure on prices.

China’s largest coal producer China Shenhua Energy lowered its sales and production forecasts recently.

Shenhua aims to produce 290 million tonnes of coal in 2018, down 1.8 percent from a year ago, Shenhua said in its annual earnings report on March 23, while sales are likely to decline 3 percent from 2017 to 430 million tonnes. (Reporting by Meng Meng and Josephine Mason Editing by Joseph Radford)

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