India pitches to buy extra coal from Russia as MoS visits St Petersburg, ET EnergyWorld

India has pitched to purchase additional consignments of coal from Russia, raising the possibility that the commodity may become the second biggest item of import from the resource-rich country after crude oil, said officials.

Union minister of state for steel and rural development Faggan Singh Kulaste met the governor of Kuzbass, Sergey Tsivilyov, on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Thursday and discussed deepening of bilateral cooperation in the coal sector, an official told ET.

Kuzbass is the leading coal-producing region in Russia. The region’s economy is based on exports of raw materials and the main industries are coal and metals.

Imports of coking coal from Russia may double this year, from 54 million tonnes in 2022-23, due to lower prices, quicker deliveries and Indian companies’ decision to diversify sources, said people aware of the matter.

Kulaste is representing India at the ongoing 2023 edition of SPIEF. Addressing the forum he outlined key elements of India’s energy policy during a panel discussion on ‘Energy Challenges & Opportunities for the 21st Century’.

India imports about 90% of its 60 million tonnes coking coal requirement, with Australia being the dominant contributor, supplying more than 70%. However, India has been actively seeking to diversify its sources of steelmaking coal and has identified Russia as a preferred option due to favourable pricing and efficient delivery, said the people cited earlier.

India’s steel and energy ministries signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia in October 2021 to develop coking coal sources, collaborate on mining and steel manufacturing technologies, and procure the raw material. JSW Steel, JSPL, and SAIL have started importing coking coal from Russia and plan to expand their procurement in this financial year.

SAIL, which currently imports about 17 million tonnes of metallurgical coal annually from various sources, has said it wants to diversify its vendor base and reduce dependence on existing sources.

The company conducted a trial import of 300,000 tonnes of coking coal from Russia in 2022-23 and found it suitable for its requirements. It has initiated the process of entering into an agreement with the Russian supplier and expects the quantity of imports to increase in this fiscal, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

  • Published On Jun 17, 2023 at 08:11 AM IST

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