The country's coal import increased by 12.4 per cent to 18.49 million tonnes (MT) in January, against 16.44 MT in the same month of the previous fiscal, according to m-junction, a leading name in the e-auction space.
On a month-on-month basis, however, there was a flat growth in non-coking coal, it said, adding the "met coal imports were up both on a yearly and monthly basis, thanks to the downtrend in January prices and the recent growth spurt in the Indian steel sector."
"The higher volume of coal and coke imports in January (about 12.5 per cent growth year-on-year) is mainly due to 1 MT increase in both non-coking coal and met coal imports during the month under review," m-junction services — an online procurement and sales platform floated jointly by state-run SAIL and steel behemoth Tata Steel — said.
"Coal import (all type of coals) in January 2018 stood at 18.49 MT (provisional), higher than 16.44 MT recorded for January 2017," it said.
Overall, coal and coke imports in April-January of 2017-18 stood at 179.5 MT, marginally lower than 180.8 MT recorded for the same period last year.
Commenting on the coal import trend, m-junction CEO Vinaya Varma said, "Although the coal stock position at thermal power plants has improved, when compared with last year, it continues to be modest. The utilities anticipate a pick-up in demand in the summer months ahead. So, imports are likely to remain buoyant for the next couple of months."
On the downside, Varma said there has been a dramatic reduction in pet coke imports, which was only expected after the hefty increase in import duty in December.
World Coal Association Chief Executive Benjamin Sporton told PTI that in the coming fiscal India will see rise in coal imports.
"And essentially the main reason why India will see increase in imports would be increase in demand of coal from the power generation...increase in imports is because it's needed," a global coal trade association said.