As steel companies feeling the heat from surge in coking coal prices, the Steel Ministry has approached Coal Ministry to seek availability of metallurgical coal on long-term basis, a top official said.
“What we are asking the Coal Ministry is that when they auction the coking coal mines they should do it long-term, so that if the private sector wants to invest upon the washeries they are free to invest upon it,” Steel Secretary Aruna Sharma said. Currently, domestic steel makers meet 70 per cent of their coking coal requirement through imports.
“It should not a short term...We want to underline it very clearly that coking coal mine should be for long-term.
thats all,” she said adding that “So just create a facilitating platform by flagging all the issues and getting them resolved so that the steel sector blooms in a big way.”
Metallurgical coal or coking coal is a vital ingredient in the steel making process.
The coking coal price which was at USD 80 per tonne in January last year rose to USD 283 per tonne in December 2016, Indian Steel Association Secretary General Sanak Mishra said.
However, in early January, 2017 the price of metallurgical coal came down to USD 193 per tonne, Mishra said.
The coking coal import for the steel sector in last fiscal is estimated at over over 40 million tonnes.
In order to reduced the country’s dependency on coking coal imports, Sharma said that her Ministry was is discussions with the Coal Ministry to invest in washeries.
India is heavily dependent on import of coking coal as the domestic quality has higher ash content which is unsuitable for the steel industry with present technology.
The draft steel policy also aims at increasing supply of domestic coking coal to cut dependence on imports by half. India’s largest steel maker SAIL had recently said that there was a need to develop indigenous sources of coking coal to meet its requirements as recent rise in the price of coal was putting pressure on its operations.