NEW DELHI: India is ready to raise thermal and coking coal imports from Russia to 40 million tonnes by 2035, provided logistics issues are fixed, a Russian official said.
The statement assumes significance as several parts of India had witnessed power outrages in the wake of coal shortages in the summer months of April and May.
“The volumes of supplies to India have increased. No more than 7 million tonnes used to be delivered there. There exists an intergovernmental memorandum on coking coal, they are also interested in thermal coal.
“With all transport issues solved, India is ready to purchase 40 million tonnes by 2035, which means a five-fold increase,” head of the Russian energy ministry’s coal industry department Petr Bobylev said, according to Russian news agency TASS.
While thermal coal is widely used as the principle means of generating electricity, coking coal is an essential input for production of iron and steel.
As per data provided by the Central Dispatching Department of Fuel Energy Complex, Russia exported 214.37 MT of coal last year.
Earlier, the Indian government had approved a pact between India and Russia regarding cooperation on coking coal, a key steel making raw material, for which domestic players remain dependent on imports from a select group of countries.
Around 85 per cent of India’s coking coal demand is met through imports.
The cooperation with Russia will help India reduce its dependence on far-located countries like Australia, South Africa, Canada and the US for sourcing of coking coal. It will also reduce per-tonne cost of steel production, as Russia is geographically closer compared to the said countries.
“The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the MoU (memorandum of understanding) between the ministry of steel in India and the ministry of energy of the Russian Federation on cooperation regarding coking coal,” an official statement had earlier said.
The objective of the MoU is to strengthen cooperation between India and Russia in the steel sector. The activities involved in the cooperation are aimed at diversifying the source of coking coal, it had said.
Earlier, the steel ministry had asked the domestic steel makers to get coking coal samples from Russia and test the raw material at their plants and update on the result of the same.