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Wednesday, November 19, 2014


India Shocks Australia, To Stop Coal Imports In Three Years | CleanTechnica

By Jonathan Cheng

India has witnessed a steady increase of coal imports in recent times. As of last week, 60 of India’s 103 power plants had only enough coal for less than a week’s usage. With the domestic coal supply chain in shambles, imports have been an easy way out. As a result, imports have risen from 10% of domestic coal demand five years ago to well over 20% in the last year. But now the future of coal imports in India looks unsteady. India’s Energy Minister Piyush Goyal, who is in Australia for the G20 meet, recently announced that India plans to completely stop coal imports within a period of 2 to 3 years. China, the US and India together accounted for about ¾ of the world’s consumption of thermal coal in 2013. So this announcement combined with the news of falling coal imports in China has taken off the shine from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s mega plans to revive the coal economy, which he earlier claimed had a “big future, as well as a big past.” Only last year, almost 70% of the delegates polled at the 33rd World Coal Conference organized by CoalTrans believed that the loss of the Labor Party in Australia’s election would have a positive impact on the nation’s beleaguered coal industry. But from the news coming in from all quarters, that does not seem to be happening any time soon. India wants to cut down coal imports by growing its domestic industry. Coal India, the world’s largest miner of the fuel, has been asked to pull up its socks and more than double its output to 1 billion tonnes by 2019 to feed the existing as well as upcoming thermal power plants. Over the past five years, coal production in India has dragged its feet at a dismal growth of 2% a year. According to Central Electricity Authority (India), as of now only about 55% of the Indian thermal power plants capacity is being utilised. So if India can streamline its supply chain and boost domestic coal production, it can help meet short-term electricity demand. Of course, pure economics is a key part of India’s new goal. The cost of imported coal is easily 2–3 times as expensive as domestic coal. Results this week reflect a price of Indian domestic coal as $24/ton, as against this Newcastle (Port of Newcastle is the world’s largest coal export port by volume) thermal coal is $62/ton.