March 24, 2015 / 2:53 PM / 4 years ago

India's coal imports to jump 19 percent to 200 million tonnes in 2014/15

A worker uses a loader to assemble the coal at a yard in Ahmedabad November 20, 2014. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s coal imports are expected to jump 19 percent to a record of about 200 million tonnes this fiscal year, Coal Secretary Anil Swarup told Reuters, as power companies add capacity to meet rising demand even as millions go without electricity.

Shipments into the world’s third-largest coal importer are, however, likely to slide back to about 160 million tonnes next year starting April 1 as state-run Coal India Ltd and private companies ramp up output, Swarup said on Tuesday.

India, which buys most of its coal from Indonesia, Australia and South Africa, is targeting to stop imports of power-generating thermal coal in the next few years though purchases of high-grade steelmaking coal will continue.

Coal India, the world’s largest coal miner, is expected to boost output by 50 million tonnes in 2015/16 to 550 million tonnes, Swarup said. The government has set it a target of 1 billion tonnes by 2019/20.

Coal demand was estimated at 787.03 million tonnes for this fiscal year and is going to jump in the next few years, driven by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise to supply power to all.

About 280 million people in 56 million homes, or about a fourth of India’s 1.2 billion people, still go without electricity though coal-fired power generation has been rising steadily.

Editing by Janet Lawrence

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