By Sudarshan Varadhan
NEW DELHI, July 27 (Reuters) - India’s thermal coal imports rose by 8 percent and coking coal imports by about 13 percent for the year to March 31, government data showed.
India’s total coal imports rose for the first time in three financial years, undermining the goverment’s plan to reduce India-bound coal shipments and cut its import bill.
The value of India’s coal imports rose by 38.2 percent to 1,384.77 billion rupees ($20.17 billion), the statistics wing of India’s trade ministry said.
Higher Indian imports will be a boon for international miners such as Indonesia’s Adaro Energy, Australia’s Whitehaven Coal and global commodity merchants such as Glencore at a time when Asian coal prices are rising to multi-year highs.
Imports of thermal coal - mostly used for power generation - rose to 161.27 million tonnes for the year to March 31, from 149.31 million tonnes the precious financial year.
India-bound shipments of coking coal, used mainly for manufacturing steel, rose to 47 million tonnes, data from the trade minsitry’s directorate general of commercial intelligence and statistics (DGCIS) showed.
Domestic logistical bottlenecks because of a shortage of trains and regulatory changes targeting pollution cuts have all fuelled the higher imports, which are expected to stay firm through the rest of 2018.
Australia’s share of India’s coking coal imports fell to 76 percent from 87.7 percent.
Canada and the United States both increased their share of India’s coking coal imports, with shipments from the United States almost tripling to 3.29 million tonnes, the data showed.
Imports from Indonesia, which accounted for about three-fifths of India’s thermal coal imports, rose to 94.73 million tonnes, from 91.26 million tonnes in 2016/17.
Shipments from South Africa rose by more than 13 percent to 38.49 million tonnes. ($1 = 68.6400 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan Editing by David Goodman)