India’s coal imports on the rise as prices fall

Coal imports into India, the world’s third largest buyer, jumped 33.5 percent in the last fiscal year to 242.4 million tonnes as lower purchases by China depressed prices and helped consumers elsewhere, preliminary data from online trader mjunction showed.

Indian power companies typically depend on imports for about 15 percent of their annual needs but that figure looks set to climb thanks to a continuous fall in prices, which has raised the appetite for foreign coal.

Imports in March were estimated to have risen 80 percent to 24.73 million tonnes, according to mjunction data based on information from shipping companies, ports and other sources.

Government data on imports generally comes with a lag and varies with those from private firms like mjunction, which collects data from a greater number of ports and includes additional coal grades.

“Going by existing trends and a soft trend in international markets, India’s coal import of all types in 2015-16 would be more than 260 million tonnes,” mjunction Chief Executive and Managing Director Viresh Oberoi said in an email on Tuesday.

Coal Secretary Anil Swarup estimated imports of 200 million tonnes for 2014/15 and 160 million tonnes for the 2015/16 fiscal year.

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