NEW DELHI: India’s coal imports from North America quadrupled to 2.1 million tonnes in October from a year ago, the highest since at least January 2015, Thomson Reuters data showed, and buyers are looking to boost purchases amid a domestic shortage of the fuel.
A ban on the use of petroleum coke, a dirtier but better-burning alternative to coal, is spurring expectations India will buy even more coal from the United States in coming months.
Petcoke has been banned in some states around the Indian capital New Delhi which is battling heavy smog.
But rising pollution in other Indian cities could lead to tougher restrictions such as a nationwide ban on use and imports of petcoke, with environmentalists requesting other states in the Country to consider banning the use and import of the dirty fuel.
Indian imports of North American coal, including supplies from Canada, stand at about 1.5 million tonnes from November 1–20, ship tracking data on Thomson Reuters Eikon showed, already more than 70 per cent of last month’s purchases.
“Every cement company is looking for an alternative to petroleum coke, and all of them are scrambling for US coal,” a senior executive from one of cement companies.
Cement companies account for nearly 75 per cent of India’s annual petcoke demand of 27 million tonnes, according to trade data, and small industries such as lime manufacturers are also considering the use of US coal, which is almost as efficent as petcoke.