The country’s coal import dropped by 20 per cent to 18.93 million tonnes (MT) last month, industry data showed.
The government is planning to bring the country’s ‘avoidable coal imports’ to zero by 2023-24. Demand for coal import is expected to remain subdued in the short-term given the high coal stock levels in pithead and power plants, according to mjunction.
The coal import in May last year stood at 23.57 MT, it said. mjunction — a joint venture between Tata Steel and SAIL — is a B2B e-commerce company that also publishes research reports on coal and steel verticals. However, coal import during last month through the major and non-major ports is estimated to have increased by 10.76 per cent over April 2020, according to a provisional compilation by mjunction services limited, based on monitoring of vessels’ positions and data received from shipping companies.
“The slight uptick in May imports over the previous month might have resulted from the partial re-start of operations in some sectors as well as the continued softness in coal prices in the international markets. “However, given the high coal stock levels in pithead and power plants, we expect import demand to remain subdued in the short-term,” mjunction MD and CEO Vinaya Varma said.
Import of coal in May stood at 18.93 MT (provisional) as compared to 17.09 MT (revised) in April 2020, mjunction said. Of the total imports last month, the import of non-coking coal was at 13.22 MT, against 12.28 MT in April.
Coking coal imports were at 3.81 MT in May, up from 3.23 MT imported a month ago.
During April-May, total coal import was at 36.02 MT, registering a decline of 27.83 per cent from 49.90 MT imported during the same period of the previous year.
During April-May, non-coking coal imports stood at 25.50 MT, from 35.35 MT imported during April-May 2019.
Coking coal imports were at 7.04 MT during April-May, down from 8.77 MT earlier.
Coal India Ltd (CIL), which accounts for over 80 per cent of the domestic fuel output, has been mandated by the government to replace at least 100 MT of imports with domestically-produced coal in the ongoing fiscal.
The Centre had earlier asked power generating companies, including NTPC, 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 per cent to 242.97 MT in 2019-20.