NEW DELHI, Sept 19 Coal India could
seek 10-15 million tonnes of coal as early as next month in its
first tender, a senior company official said, as the world's
biggest coal miner continues to miss its own production targets.
Coal imports, set to hit a record 165 million tonnes in the
fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, are worrying the government
as one of the top 10 commodities adding to a bulging current
Coal India's debut would add as much as 10 percent to that
demand and perhaps help support global coal prices which have
been under pressure from oversupply, with Indian buyers seeking
discounts because of a falling rupee.
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has said imports should be
cut by boosting domestic production, but Coal India's output is
not enough for electricity producers struggling to avoid massive
power cuts that bedevil Asia's third-largest economy.
"We are looking at between 10-15 million tonnes of coal
imports depending on the confirmation and advance payment from
the power utilities that have opted for it," said the official,
who did not wish to be named.
The miner's likely coal import needs have been steadily
rising as it signs more fuel supply agreements (FSAs) with power
producers. In August, its needs were around 8 million tonnes.
The state-run miner, which produces more than three-quarters
of India's coal, must provide 80 percent of the fuel needs of
its power station customers, using imports if its own output
falls short. Coal fuels nearly 60 percent of India's power
So far, around 50 buyers spanning private power producers
and state-owned utilities such as Damodar Valley Corporation
have expressed their interest in imports, the official said.
The tender would be done through public sector trading
firms, but the company is yet to finalise which ones.
State Trading Corp, MMTC, PEC and MSTC
are among the state-run trading companies that import coal for
various power producers and could be used by Coal India.
Coal India is open to sourcing the imports from any country,
a company source said last month.
Indonesia accounted for more than 60 percent of India's coal
imports in June, followed by Australia and South Africa, data
showed last month.
Shipments are not expected until next year, the official
said on Thursday.
(Reporting by Malini Menon; Editing by Jo Winterbottom and