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Rising coal production pushes India to look at export.

Date: 06-07-2016
Subject: Rising coal production pushes India to look at export
NEW DELHI: From being a coal importer, India has reached a point where the country's largest producer — state-run Coal India Ltd — is looking at exporting the fuel as growth in production has outpaced consumption on the back of the company's turnaround scripted by the coal ministry in the last two years.

An Indian team recently visited Bangladesh to study the market potential. To begin with, the 1,320 MW power station being built by India's flagship generation utility NTPC in joint venture with Bangladesh Power Development Board could be a potential customer.

Coal production rose 8.5% to 536 million tonne in 2015-16 as a result of reforms push by the ministry under Piyush Goyal. Ever since he took over as coal, power and renewables minister, Goyal has been focusing on expediting green clearances and getting states on board for land acquisition for new mines.

As an indicator of improved supply from Coal India, NTPC, its biggest consumer and largest coal user in the country, has said it would not import any coal this fiscal - for the first time in a decade. There would still be some quantities of imports for steel and coastal power plants. India's total coal imports had risen 27% to 212 million tonne in the year to March 2015.

"It's a remarkable turnaround story. So far India depended on imports (to bridge shortfall as Coal India's production lagged demand). But with record production growth, Coal India is able to look at exports," coal secretary Anil Swarup told TOI on Tuesday.

While declining to comment on the Indian team's visit to Bangladesh, Swarup said Indian coal would work out 20-30% cheaper for Bangladesh than imports from Indonesia. "Indian mining costs are the cheapest in the world. This makes Indian coal competitive, though perhaps it can't be exported over long distance due to high ash content," he said.

But the rapid increase in production has brought its own problem by way of stockpiles at mines rising to 56 million tonne at the end of 2015-16 as generation utilities lost appetite for the fuel because financially weak state discoms preferred to curtail supply rather than buy more power. The stockpile has now declined to 49 million tonne as off-take improved, pushed by a near 10% rise in power production.

Source : timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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