Coal imports during July declined by 11.1 per cent to 18.03 million tonnes (mt) on the back of higher domestic availability of the fossil fuel. The figure stood at 20.29 mt during the same month last year, according to mjunction services, an online procurement and sales platform jointly floated by SAIL and Tata Steel.
"The decline in July imports this year against (the same month) last year can be attributed to number of factors, including monsoon, when imports generally come down.
"In addition, firmness in international coal prices since beginning of June and higher availability of domestic coal also impacted imports," Viresh Oberoi, CEO and MD of mjunction said. PwC's Kameswara Rao said the thermal coal imports after a dip last year will be at similar levels. So, on the whole, the broader trend remains flat. The real change is that with surplus generation capacity and adequate supplies of domestic coal, imported coal-based power plants are largely filling in the marginal gaps in demand requirement, taking opportunistic advantage of price movements, he said.
Further, with many imported coal based load power plants operating at lower utilisation, the overall volume of imports is likely to remain flat. Of the 18.03 mt of coal imported, the non-coking coal was highest at 12.39 mt, followed by coking coal at 3.76 mt, pet coke at 1.05 mt, among others.
However, the coal imports in June had gone up by 20.19 mt against 19.63 mt in the same month of 2015. The government had earlier said the coal imports will further come down in the ongoing fiscal on account of increased domestic output. The data of the first two months (April-May) of this fiscal indicate reduction in the import of coal, Coal Secretary Anil Swarup had said.