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India’s Thermal Coal Imports Can Expect 10% Increase this Year

India's 2018 thermal coal imports rose at the fastest pace in four years, adding to India's trade deficit and hurting the valuation of the rupee.

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FILE - A laborer works inside a coal yard on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, April 6, 2017. VOA

India’s thermal coal imports could rise by about 10 percent in 2019 due to rail transport problems and other logistical bottlenecks, an executive at the country’s largest coal trader Adani Enterprises said on Tuesday.

Thermal coal imports rose in 2018 after two years of decline, despite moves by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to cut the country’s imports in a bid to reduce the trade deficit.

Rajendra Singh, chief operating officer for coal trading at Adani Enterprises, said thermal coal imports this year could total 174 million-177 million tons.

“We expect a 10 percent increase in imported coal because of an immediate gap in supply from Coal India and power demand and demand from other sectors,” Singh said at the Coaltrans conference.

thermal coal imports, india
Rajendra Singh, chief operating officer for coal trading at Adani Enterprises, said thermal coal imports this year could total 174 million-177 million tons. Pixabay

Coal is among the top five commodities imported by India, and over three-fifths of its thermal coal imports come from Indonesia, while over a fifth is imported from South Africa.

India’s 2018 thermal coal imports rose at the fastest pace in four years, adding to India’s trade deficit and hurting the valuation of the rupee, the worst performing major Asian currency in 2018.

The Adani Group, which handles about a third of India’s imported coal, expects “rail transportation challenges” to lead to a “reasonable rise in imports” until fiscal year 2021 when they will stabilize.

Singh said he expects small and medium scale industries such as the sponge iron industry, tile manufacturers, cement producers and textiles to contribute to higher demand for seaborne coal, adding that an industrial shift from petcoke to coal was fueling higher imports.

 

thermal coal imports, india
Coal is among the top five commodities imported by India, and over three-fifths of its thermal coal imports come from Indonesia, while over a fifth is imported from South Africa. Pixabay

Petcoke, or petroleum coke, is a refinery byproduct which is a dirtier alternative to coal. Its usage has been banned in some parts of the country, and policy flip-flops over its usage have led to a fall in demand for the fuel.

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State-run Coal India Ltd, which accounts for four-fifths of India’s coal production, supplies largely to power plants rather than small and medium-scale industries.

Smaller scale industries have used imported coal in a big way, and while higher coal imports may be bad news for India’s trade deficit, they are a boon for international miners and global commodity merchants. (VOA)

Next Story

India Aborts Launch of Spacecraft Intended to Land on Far Side of Moon

The Chandrayaan-2 mission was called off when a “technical snag” was observed in the 640-ton, 14-story rocket launcher

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India, Spacecraft, Moon
A spectator holds an Indian flag after a mission of Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-2, with the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle on board was called back because of a technical snag in Sriharikota, India, July 15, 2019. VOA

India aborted the launch Monday of a spacecraft intended to land on the far side of the moon less than an hour before liftoff.

The Chandrayaan-2 mission was called off when a “technical snag” was observed in the 640-ton, 14-story rocket launcher, Indian Space Research Organization spokesman B.R. Guruprasad said.

The countdown abruptly stopped at T-56 minutes, 24 seconds, and Guruprasad said that the agency would announce a revised launch date soon.

Chandrayaan, the word for “moon craft” in Sanskrit, is designed for a soft landing on the lunar south pole and to send a rover to explore water deposits confirmed by a previous Indian space mission.

India, Spacecraft, Moon
FILE – Indian space scientist and Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization Kailasavadivoo Sivan speaks during a press conference at the ISRO headquarters Antariksh Bhavan, in Bangalore, June 12, 2019. VOA

With nuclear-armed India poised to become the world’s fifth-largest economy, the ardently nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is eager to show off the country’s prowess in security and technology. If India did manage the soft landing, it would be only the fourth to do so after the U.S., Russia and China.

Dr. K. Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, said at a news conference last week that the estimated $140 million Chandrayaan-2 mission was the nation’s “most prestigious” to date, in part because of the technical complexities of soft landing on the lunar surface, an event he described as “15 terrifying minutes.”

After countdown commenced Sunday, Sivan visited two Hindu shrines to pray for the mission’s success.

Criticized program pays off

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Practically since its inception in 1962, India’s space program has been criticized as inappropriate for an overpopulated, developing nation.

But decades of space research have allowed India to develop satellite communications and remote sensing technologies that are helping solve everyday problems at home, from forecasting fish migration to predicting storms and floods.

With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission this month, the world’s biggest space agencies are returning their gaze to the moon, seen as ideal testing grounds for technologies required for deep space exploration, and, with the confirmed discovery of water, as a possible pit stop along the way.

“The moon is sort of our backyard for training to go to Mars,” said Adam Steltzner, NASA’s chief engineer responsible for its 2020 mission to Mars.

India, Spacecraft, Moon
India aborted the launch Monday of a spacecraft intended to land on the far side of the moon less than an hour before liftoff. Pixabay

Seeking water on the moon

Because of repeated delays, India missed the chance to achieve the first soft landing near the lunar south pole. China’s Chang’e 4 mission landed a lander and rover there last January.

India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission orbited the moon in 2008 and helped confirm the presence of water. The Indian Space Research Organization wants its new mission’s rover to further probe the far side of the moon, where scientists believe a basin contains water-ice that could help humans do more than plant flags on future manned missions.

The U.S. is working to send a manned spacecraft to the moon’s south pole by 2024.

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Modi has set a deadline of 2022 for India’s first manned spaceflight. (VOA)