The chairman of China Shenhua Group, Chen Biting, is set to retire and may be replaced by the group's president Zhang Xiwu. Mr Chen, 63, had passed the standard retirement age of 60 for deputy minister-grade cadres and would soon retire, Caijing reported without saying where it got the information. The former Jiangsu province vice-governor has also served as chairman of listed Shenhua since 2004. Mr Chen will likely be succeeded by Mr Zhang, who is also a non-executive director of Shenhua, Caijing said, but a China Shenhua spokesman declined to comment. 'We see minimum impact on Shenhua given its mature business model, established practices and sound management,' said Nomura Securities analyst Donovan Huang. Shenhua is the country's largest coal producer with integrated operations, allowing it to balance cyclical trends in the coal and power industries whose profits tend to go in opposite directions at extreme movements in coal prices. Shenhua posted an 18.9 per cent year-on-year growth in coal output to 15.7 million tonnes last month, with a 5.2 per cent decline in coal sales to 18.2 million tonnes. The decline highlighted shrinking mainland power demand, which dropped 8.6 per cent year on year last month due to a 13.85 per cent fall in power demand from the industrial sector, according to China Electricity Council figures. Mr Huang said the risk of coal producers having to accept flat or declining one-year contract coal prices had increased since rapidly falling spot prices saw the premium of spot to contract prices narrowing to only 6.9 per cent yesterday. However, companies with lower previous-year coal prices such as Shenhua might be able to still raise contract prices by a small amount, he added. Power-station coal with a heating value of 5,500 kilocalories per kilogram that changed hands at the country's largest coal port in Qinhuangdao has plunged 49 per cent to 510 yuan (HK$577) a tonne from a peak of 1,000 yuan in July.