New Delhi: India’s coal import fell 43.2% to 11.13 million tonnes (MT) in July this year on account of high stockpile of the dry fuel at pitheads, plants and ports.
The country had imported 19.61 MT of coal in July 2019, according to a provisional compilation, by mjunction services limited, based on the monitoring of vessels’ positions and data received from shipping companies.
Mjunction – a joint venture between Tata Steel and the Steel Authority of India – is a B2B e-commerce company that also publishes research reports on coal and steel verticals.
“Imports in July 2020 stood at 11.13 million tonnes (provisional) … Earlier, coal and coke imports in July 2019 stood at 19.61 MT,” it said.
During April-July 2020, total coal imports were recorded at 57.27 MT, which is 35.76% lower than 89.15 MT imported during April-July 2019, it said.
Commenting on the current trend in coal imports, mjunction managing director and chief executive Vinaya Varma said, “Import demand continued to be weak amidst high stockpile of coal at pitheads, plants and ports. The market participants seem to have adopted a wait and watch approach and are currently looking for a direction. We do not expect to see any significant variation in volumes in the short-term.”
During April-July 2020, non-coking coal imports stood at 38.84 MT as compared to 60.97 MT imported in the corresponding period last year.
“Coking coal imports were at 10.67 MT during April-July, down from 17.73 MT imported during the same period last year,” mjunction services said.
The government had earlier mandated state-owned Coal India Limited (CIL), which accounts for over 80% of domestic coal output, to replace at least 100 MT of imports with domestically-produced coal in 2020-21.
CIL had last month said that coal production in some of the major mines is still affected due to high stock and less offtake.
Pithead stock of CIL as on July 16 was 72.88 MT as compared to 33.17 MT in the same period a year ago, it said.
The Mahratna firm had said that the despatch of coal was adversely affected in the last week of March resulting in mounting coal stock at pitheads.
Coal stock as on March 31, 2020, was 74.629 MT, compared to 54.155 MT on March 31, 2019.
The Centre had earlier asked power generating companies, including NTPC Limited, Tata Power and Reliance Power, to reduce import of the dry fuel for blending purposes and replace it with domestic coal.
The power sector is a key coal consumer.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also given directions to target thermal coal import substitution, particularly when huge coal-stock inventory is available in the country this year.
Coal minister Pralhad Joshi had earlier written to state chief ministers asking them not to import coal and take domestic supply from CIL, which has the fuel in abundance.
The country’s coal imports increased marginally by 3.2% to 242.97 MT in 2019-20.