The country's coal imports decreased by 29.1 percent to 18.65 million tonnes in April owing to a lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus infection. The government has recently asked power-generating companies to reduce coal imports for blending reasons and substitute them with domestic coal.
The country imported 26.34 million tonnes of coal in April 2019, on the basis of a preliminary compilation of the mjunction facilities, based on the monitoring of the locations of the vessels and the data obtained from the shipping companies.
Commenting on the coal import pattern in April 2020, Vinaya Varma Mjunction Managing Director and CEO said, "The sustained lockdown across the world has had an effect on both demand and supply-side factors. While spot prices have plummeted to multi-year lows, the tight liquidity situation has reduced volumes. However, sporadic purchases were made by traders and consumers, who expected a phased easing of restrictions and a sharp spurt in post-lockdown industrial activity."
Coal imports through ports are expected to have decreased by 6.18 percent in April 2020 over the previous month, said Mjunction Services. Imports rose to 19.87 million tonnes in March.of the total imports in April 2020, the volume of non-coking coal was 13.05 million tonnes compared to 13.16 million tonnes in March 2020. Coking coal imports amounted to 3.3 million tonnes in April 2020, lower than 4 million tonnes a month ago. In 2019-20, coal imports amounted to 247.1 million tonnes, about 5 percent more than 235.35 million tonnes of fuel imported during FY2018-19.
Pralhad Joshi Coal Minister had earlier written to state chief ministers asking them not to import dry-fuel and take the domestic supply of fuel from Coal India Ltd (CIL), which has the fossil fuel in abundance.
The primary consumer power sector is struggling with poor demand as a consequence of the lockdown, and plants operate at a lower capacity to the demand for coal. In order to raise the coal demand which has been affected by the lockdown, the government has proposed a range of steps, such as increased availability of dry fuel for linkage consumers. Several relief measures have also been announced for consumers of CIL, including the power sector.