The country's coal import dropped by 29.1 per cent to 18.65 million tonnes in April due to the lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus infection.
The government had recently asked power generating companies to reduce coal import for blending purpose and replace it with domestic coal. The country imported 26.34 million tonnes (MT) of coal in April 2019, according to a provisional compilation by mjunction services based on monitoring of vessels' positions and data received from shipping companies.
Commenting on the coal import trend in April 2020, mjunction Managing Director and CEO Vinaya Varma said, "The prolonged lockdown across the world has impacted both demand and supply-side factors. Although spot prices have plunged to multi-year lows, tight liquidity situation has restricted volumes. "However, there was sporadic buying by traders and consumers who anticipated phased easing of restrictions and a sudden spurt in post-lockdown industrial activity."
Coal import through ports is estimated to have decreased by 6.18 per cent in April 2020 over the previous month, mjunction services said. Imports in March stood at 19.87 MT (revised). Of the total imports in April 2020, the volume of non-coking coal was at 13.05 MT against 13.16 MT in March 2020. Coking coal imports stood at 3.3 MT in April 2020, lower than 4 MT a month ago. Coal import in 2019-20 was at 247.1 MT, about 5 per cent higher than 235.35 MT fuel imported during FY2018-19.
Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi had earlier written to state chief ministers asking them not to import dry-fuel and take the domestic supply of fuel from Coal India Ltd (CIL), which has the fossil fuel in abundance. Key coal consumer power sector is grappling with weak demand due to the lockdown and plants are operating at lower capacity, bringing down the demand for the coal. To boost the coal demand hit by the lockdown, the government has announced a slew of measures like increased dry-fuel supply for linkage consumers. It has also announced several relief measures for CIL consumers, including the power sector.