India to Start Buying More Coal from Russia this Winter: Minister

Indian steelmakers have started testing samples of Russian coal, India’s Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Tuesday, adding that he was confident that his country would import more coking coal from Russia this winter, Reuters reports.

“Offtake of coal from Far East Russia can grow as the coking coal…becomes more attractive from the point of view of price, ease of availability, connectivity to the ports and sea transport,” the Ministry of Steel quoted Pradhan as saying in a statement.

India imported most of its coking coal from Australia for years, but has progressively cut down on imports from the country in the last three years.

Shipments of coking coal from the United States and Canada rose to a sixth of all Indian imports of the fuel during the year ended March 2019, according to government data, while Australia’s share fell to 71% from about 88% three years ago.

Interruptions to Australian supply in recent years, including a flood in a major coal producing region in February and a cyclone which tore into Queensland in 2017, raised concerns in India.

Overall coking coal imports to India, one of the world’s fastest growing major economies, rose 10.3% to 51.84 million tons in 2018/19, with demand for the fuel expected to more than double over the next 10 years.

The country plans to increase annual crude steel production to 300 million tons by 2030 from 132 million tons currently, with steelmakers importing the bulk of their coal due to scarce domestic production.