New Delhi: Coal imports declined by 21.7 per cent to 14.31 million tonnes in January as the power utilities did not lift much fuel due to abundant stock available with them.
Coal import (all type of coals) in January 2017 stood at 14.31 million tonnes (MT) (provisional) against 18.28 MT in January 2016, mjunction services, an online procurement and sales platform floated jointly by SAIL and Tata Steel told PTI.
"In power sector, the state utilities are replete with stock and are aiming to curb imports altogether (except for coast-based plants) by March 2017. This explains the substantial drop....in steam coal imports in January 2017 vis-a-vis the same month last year," mjunction CEO Vinaya Varma said.
There was a marginal drop in non-coking coal imports in January 2017 compared with December 2016 as non-power sector consumers stopped restocking the material after steam coal prices reversed its declining trend midway through January, Varma said.
"In fact, spot steam coal prices firmed up by around eight-nine per cent in South Africa, and also rose marginally in Indonesia during the month," Varma added.
The government had said, in September, 2016, that it was working on a plan to end dependency on coal imports in next 3-4 months in order to facilitate consumption of the surplus fossil fuel produced by Coal India.
"To tackle this problem of surplus, my ministry has drawn up an entire programme to see how we can completely eliminate import of coal by any state government or state discom in the next 3-4 months," Coal Minister Piyush Goyal had earlier said. Coal India accounts for over 80 per cent of domestic coal production.