SA may overtake Australia as India’s second-largest coal supplier

KOLKATA — India’s rankings of its most preferred source of coal imports were expected to change dramatically this year, with South Africa poised to emerge as the second-largest supplier, officials in the world’s largest coal miner, State-controlled Coal India Limited (CIL), and the country’s Coal Ministry, said.

Explaining the rationale behind the expected change in rankings, the officials pointed out that South African policies for exports remained favourable, while the outlook for coal sourced from Indonesia and Australia were turning less rosy.

Last week, economic counsellor in the High Commission of South Africa in India, Stefanus Botes, confirmed that South Africa was not considering an export tax on coal.

Indian officials said that coal imports were expected to surge to levels of around 165 million to 180 million tonnes during 2013/14, up from 135 million tonnes in the previous year and, in view of the favourable coal trading policies of the South African government, the country could replace Australia as the second-largest supplier of coal to Indian thermal power plants.

In fact, for its maiden import shipment of coal in the next few months, CIL was making an extra effort to scout for South African supplies.

It was pointed out that changes in the pecking order of suppliers of India’s imported coal were in line with last year’s emerging trend, which saw the number of imports from South Africa increase the most, while, in volume terms, the largest shipments were still sourced from Indonesia.

India’s coal imports from Indonesia recorded an increase of 40%, at around 77 million tonnes in 2012/13, followed by a 2,8% increase from Australia at 26,8-million tonnes, while the biggest growth was seen from South Africa, which increased by 43% to 17,4 million tonnes.

If the current softening in international coal prices were sustained, volume shipments from South Africa could increase substantially, offsetting the higher freight costs for South African imports when compared with Indonesian sources.

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