India's coal import increased substantially by 35% to 21.1 million tonnes in September, as against 15.61 million tonnes in the corresponding month previous fiscal. The rise in imports comes at a time when the captive power plants in the country are grappling with the issue of coal shortages.
"The increase in coal and coke imports in September is mainly due to higher imports of non-coking coal during the month under review," according to mjunction services, a joint venture between Tata Steel and SAIL.
There was, however, a marginal drop in coking coal imports on a month-on-month basis, it said.
Overall, coal and coke imports during the first half of the current fiscal increased by 13.9% to 119.42 million tonnes, compared to 104.81 million tonnes in the April-September period of previous fiscal, mjunction added.
"With the coal shortage persisting in the power sector, there is high demand for imported material." commenting on the coal import trend, mjunction CEO Vinaya Varma expressed. "This, accompanied by a correction in thermal coal prices in the global market, has led to higher imports in September. If other things remain the same, this trend is likely to continue in October."
Steam coal imports during the first six months of FY2018-19 increased 17.5% to around 82.5 million tonnes, compared to 70.21 million tonnes in the same period previous year, mjunction said.
With the power plants grappling with acute coal shortage, the government has recently directed Coal India and its subsidiaries to give priority to power plants in fuel supply.
Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) -- a Coal India arm-- in a recent letter said in view of the acute shortage of coal at power plants, it was decided in the meeting that rakes will be loaded only for power plants.
After meeting the requirement of power plants, CPSUs like RINL, Nalco and SAIL (RSP) are to be loaded till the crisis is over, the letter had said.
The government had earlier said that during 2017-18 coal imports increased to 208.27 million tonnes due to increase in demand by consuming sectors.
The country's coal import fell from 217.7 million tonnes in 2014-15 to 190.9 million tonnes in 2016-17.
(Writing by Becky Du Editing by Tammy Yang)
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