Coal import by Coal India may rise 10-fold in three years

A rise in demand for power may translate into a 10-fold rise in coal imports into India by state-owned Coal India Ltd.

The total imports could amount to 40-45 million tonnes over a period of three years.

An increase in power generating capacity by power firms has meant a greater demand for coal. According to reports, plants utilising coal as fuel will also see a raise in their share of total power production, from the current around 53 per cent to 57 per cent.

Though India has the fourth largest coal reserves, amounting to 10 per cent of the global resources, its quality is regarded as being of a low grade, with a high fly-ash content and low calorific value. As such it is compelled to import higher grade coals.

According to A Sarkar, managing director, Coal India, the company will import 4 million tonne of coal in the current year.

Sarkar said the company is looking at overseas projects to import 12 million tonnes of coal in the next three years. Its target for coal production by 2012 is 520 million tonnes, which Sarkar said was doubtful given the delays in obtaining various clearances.

Coal India is also planning to invite tenders for its 18 abandoned mines in a unique bidding request which would invite bidders to evaluate the mining potential and costs of the mines.

The joint venture with the successful bidders will be for ten years, and the private partner will get access to half the coal produced at a fixed price and to be sold in India.