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Coal imports from Russia have almost tripled in the past three budgets

New DelhiRussia’s metallurgical coal imports have roughly tripled over the past three years to reach about 15.1 million tonnes in 2023-2024, mainly due to lower prices, while those from Australia have fallen, a research firm said.

Russia’s share of India’s metallurgical coal imports of 73.2 million tonnes (MT) has risen to around 21 percent from around 8 percent in 2021-22, research firm Big Mint said in a statement.

Imports of metallurgical coal, including coking coal and pulverized coal injection (PCI), from Russia stood at 5.1 tonnes, accounting for 8 per cent of India’s total imports of 65.6 tonnes of the commodity in 2021-22.

Russia’s metallurgical coal imports rose to 11.3 tonnes in 2022-2023, accounting for 16 percent of the 69.9 tonnes of coal imports that year.

In 2023-2024, coal imports from Russia amounted to 15.1 tons or 21 percent of the total coal imports of 73.2 tons. Australia, a major supplier of coal to India, saw a decline in exports of the commodity to India.

Australia supplied 50.7 tonnes of coal in FY22, or 77 percent of India’s total imports. Coal deliveries fell to 42.2 tonnes in FY22, while market share also fell to 60 per cent.

In the last financial year, imports of metallurgical coal from Australia fell further to 40.4 tonnes, resulting in a market share of 55 percent. Iron ore and metallurgical coal or coal are essential ingredients in steel production. India depends on imports to meet domestic demand for coal.

According to BigMint analysts, “cost-benefit” is the main reason for the increase in metallurgical coal imports from Russia.

Imports from Russia cost domestic steel players less due to low prices, a BigMint analyst said. In the long term, however, imports from Russia are expected to decline as the country is expected to impose an export tax on coal and increase logistics costs, another analyst said.

Speaking to PTI earlier, SAIL Chairman Amarendu Prakash had said that the company had procured around eight coking coal shipments of 75,000 tonnes each (total 600,000 tonnes) from Russia in the first two quarters of FY24.

Tata Steel had also tested Russian coking coal in steel production. VR Sharma of Jindal Steel and Power (JSP) had said that India can meet 50 percent of its coking coal needs from Russia