| NEW DELHI
NEW DELHI Feb 10 The weak rupee cut India's
imports of coal, the fuel that provides almost 60 percent of its
electricity, by 33 percent in January from the same month last
year, data from leading research group OreTeam showed on Monday.
Struggling domestic coal output has meant that India has
jumped to the number three global importer, behind China and
Japan. It is less reliant on imports of coking coal for its
Imports were 9.2 million tonnes, down a third from the
previous January's 13.6 million tonnes, and against 13.1 million
in December, said Prakash Duvvuri, head of research at OreTeam.
"The fall in imports was mainly due to currency fluctuation
... which has kept a lid on coal imports," Duvvuri told Reuters.
The partially convertible rupee fell 1.4 percent
in January on concerns of foreign outflows as the U.S. Federal
Reserve cut its monetary stimulus.
Import of thermal coal, used in power generation, totalled
6.93 million tonnes in January while coking coal and lesser
grades made up the rest, said OreTeam, which collects data from
representatives at ports, mining regions and companies.
Asia's third-largest economy depends on state-run Coal India
Ltd for about 80 percent of its output, but the
company has fallen short of its targets for at least the past
six years due to difficulties in obtaining environmental
approvals, lack of railway access and other issues.
India sits on what BP ranks as the world's fifth-largest
"Also, the (milder) winters in the northern and eastern part
of the country reduced electricity consumption, thus taking some
load off the coal-fired power generators," said Duvvuri.
Most of India's coal imports come from Indonesia, South
Africa, Australia and Canada. Imports of the fuel rose 21
percent to 152 million tonnes last year as power producers
brought in more due to low prices and a domestic shortage,
according to OreTeam.
India's thermal coal imports are expected to continue to
rise as it races to up its per-capita power consumption of about
778 kilowatt-hour (kWh), equivalent to about 30 percent of the
global average of 2,600 kWh. Power generation is expected to
rise 7 percent to 975 billion kWh this fiscal year ending March
Though the government does not regularly release data on
coal imports, the Coal Ministry has said domestic output could
fall short of demand by 155 million tonnes this fiscal year
(Editing by William Hardy)