Coal imports fell 13.7 per cent to 15.59 million tonnes (MT) in October due to higher prices of the fossil fuel in the international market.
The country had imported 18.08 MT of coal in October last year, mjunction services, an online procurement and sales platform floated jointly by SAIL and Tata Steel said.
It further said that total imports of 15.59 MT in October also include 10.34 MT of non-coking fuel and 3.54 MT of coking coal.
“Coal imports (all type of coals) in October 2016 stood at 15.59 million tonnes MT (provisional) against 18.09 MT in October 2015 and 15.55 MT in September 2016,” it said.
Coal imports in October remained almost flat compared to September as Indian buyers continued to delay their purchases, expecting prices in international markets to soften, mjunction CEO Vinaya Varma said.
“Coal prices had started firming up from June this year and there was expectation that prices will soften gradually, but that did not happen encouraging Indian buyers to look at domestic sources,” Varma said.
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 USD 56.50 per tonne to USD 73.25 per tonne (FOB), while coking coal prices have jumped by nearly 132 per cent to USD 215 per tonne from USD 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 earlier said that Coal India has set a target to replace about 15 MT of imported coal with indigenous fuel in the next six months.
Helped by a record coal production by the world’s largest coal miner Coal India, India reduced its import bill of the dry fuel by more than Rs 28,000 crore in the last fiscal.