Coal imports fell 6 per cent to 16.1 million tonnes in September over the same month last year owing to higher prices of the fossil fuel in the international market.
“Coal import (all types of coal) in September 2016 stood at 16.01 million tonnes (mt) (provisional) against 17.10 mt in September 2015,” Vinaya Varma, the newly-appointed CEO of mjunction services, an online procurement and sales platform floated jointly by SAIL and Tata Steel, said. He further said that higher prices in international markets appear to be discouraging Indian buyers from importing coal as they expect rates to soften and this is the primary reason for falling inward shipments in recent months, including September 2016, he said. Varma further said that a sufficient stock of domestic coal is available in the country.
In addition, the demand for coal in India is not rising as per expectation as overall economy is not growing in the way it was expected to grow, leading to lower-than-expected demand for steel and cement, consequently the lower demand for power and coal, he added. In fact, the price of South African standard steam coal with 6000 Kcal/kg NAR calorific value has risen by nearly 30 per cent between July 1, 2016 and September 30, 2016 from $56.50 per tonne to $73.25 per tonne (FOB), while coking coal prices have jumped by nearly 132 per cent to $215 per tonne from $92.50 per tonne (FOB) during the same period, the mjunction services said.
Expressing concern over import of coal despite being surplus in the dry fuel, Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal had said earlier this month that Coal India has set a target to replace about 15 mt of imported coal with indigenous fuel in the next six months.