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Coal India profit rises as output grows

A worker unloads coal from a goods train at a railway yard in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh July 8, 2014. REUTERS/Ajay Verma

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Coal India Ltd, the world’s largest coal producer, said net profit rose eight percent in the April-June quarter from a year earlier as mine expansions helped boost output by five percent.

Though production inched up to 108.3 million tonnes, it was still below the company’s target for the period.

The state behemoth has been unable to dig out coal fast enough to meet the rising needs of power plants in a country where a third of the population still goes without electricity. Imports have surged as a result.

Consolidated net profit, including results from units and shares in joint ventures, rose 8 percent to 40.33 billion rupees. Analysts had expected 39.52 billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Net sales too increased 8 percent to 178 billion rupees in the first quarter of its fiscal year, the company said.

Coal India produces about 80 percent of the coal mined in India and feeds all but four of the 86 coal-based thermal power plants, but its inability to raise production quickly has made India the third-largest importer of the fossil fuel.

Lower-than-expected output has prompted the government to consider restructuring the company to improve its performance. Some of its mines may also be allowed to be operated by foreign firms.

Shares in the company have risen about 10 percent in line with the broader index, on hopes of reforms by the new government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Reporting by Krishna N Das; editing by David Clarke