* Steam coal imports seen at around 115 mln T in 2013/14
* April-Dec steam coal imports jump 70 pct to 72.5 mln T
* Local output lags brisk demand from mainly power sector (Adds details, quote, background)
By Malini Menon
NEW DELHI, Feb 19 (Reuters) - India is expected to import around 110 million tonnes of thermal coal in the current fiscal year, three trade sources said, as domestic output in the world’s fourth-biggest importer of the fuel continues to fall short of growing power demand.
Two of the sources said they expect imports to rise to around 115 million tonnes for the 2013/14 fiscal year beginning on April 1. The third source said he saw imports for 2013/14 to be at similar levels as that of the previous fiscal year.
All three sources declined to be named as they are not authorised to speak to the media.
State-run Coal India, the world’s biggest coal producer which supplies about 80 percent of the country’s needs, has missed production targets and uses stocks to top up.
“India’s coal imports for calendar 2012 is 107 million tonnes, as per my estimate, and I expect that to rise to 115 million tonnes this year,” said a coal trader on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Unlike in India, most international coal traders estimate imports on a calendar year basis.
India produced 344 million tonnes of thermal coal during April to December and imported 72.5 million tonnes during the period, government data showed.
The energy-hungry nation’s steam coal imports jumped 70 percent in the first nine months of this fiscal year from 43 million tonnes a year earlier, according to coal ministry figures provided by an official, as domestic supply growth failed to keep pace with capacity additions in the power sector.
More than half of power generated in India is through burning coal. The country has an installed power capacity of nearly 211,000 megawatts (MW), almost 48 percent more than it had five years ago.
India ranks after China, Japan and South Korea in imports and is third among producers after the United States and China, according to the World Coal Association. (Editing by James Jukwey)