Indian coal production could mean import cuts

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India is forecasting a record coal production for the year fiscal year 20/21 with implications for the country’s import needs.

According to local press reports, India will produce a record 700 million tonnes of coal in the current fiscal ending March 2021, helping cut down on imports, Coal Secretary Anil Jain said. This record output will help stop most of substitutable coal imports, Coal Secretary Anil Jain said. India imports 235 million tonnes of coal annually. About half of this is non-substitutable as they are tied to the power plant or user factories, but the rest can be cut down, he said.

India produced 602.14 million tonnes of coal in 2019-20 fiscal, marginally lower than 606 million tonnes output in the previous year due to the flooding of a mine. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target to expand the country’s economy to $5 trillion by 2024, from $2.9 trillion currently, and reducing energy imports and harnessing domestic resources are key to meeting that goal. For its part state-owned Coal India is planning to raise its annual output to 1 billion tonnes by fiscal year 2024.

Reduced demand due to COVID-19 means India has stocked up a record 75 million tonnes at its mines while power station inventories have surged to 44.7 million tonnes, the highest in data going back to 2008.