Abstract Many people believe that China's economic growth can continue almost indefinitely. For a manufacturing-based economy such as China's to continue to grow, it needs an adequate supply of inexpensive energy. To date, this energy growth has primarily come from coal, but China's indigenous coal supplies are now falling short of the amount needed to support this growth. In this situation, the status of China's future coal supply will be very important for China's future economic development. Our analysis shows that China's ultimate recoverable coal reserves equal 223.6×109MT, and its production will peak between 2025 and 2030, with peak production of approximately 3.9×109MT. The extent to which China can import coal in the future is uncertain. With rising coal demand, this combination is likely to create a significant challenge to China's future economic development.