(EnergyAsia, August 22 2015, Saturday) — Slowing energy demand from China and India has pushed Australian thermal coal prices to their lowest levels in over eight years.

Amid renewed selling pressure, the fuel’s monthly average price for August is expected to close below July’s US$63.58 per tonne, just above May 2007’s close of US$60, and sharply down from the peak of over US$141 in January 2011, according to data provider Quandl.

With oil and gas prices in freefall on account of weak economic growth across the world, coal is on course to plumb new depths as well.

The International Monetary Fund has forecast China’s economic growth to slow sharply to 6.8% this year and to 6.3% in 2016, compared with over 11% as recently as 2011. China also faces growing domestic pressure to clean up its polluted environment by reducing dependence on coal which still meets around 65% of the country’s energy demand.

As a result, the country’s coal imports have plunged by 37.5% to under 100 million tonnes in the first half of this year while domestic production has fallen by 5.8% to less than 1.8 billion tonnes. Chinese coal miners, among the least competitive in the global industry, are also reeling from financial losses and a high rate of industrial accidents.

According to Xinhua news agency, more than 70% of Chinese coal firms reported a combined loss exceeding 48.4 billion yuan in the first half of 2015. (US$1=6.4 yuan).