October 4, 2017 / 10:23 AM / 5 months ago

India's August coal shipments fall 14 percent, government says

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Coal shipments handled by major Indian ports in August fell over 14 percent from a year earlier to 9.3 million tonnes, government data showed, as demand for overseas coal declined due to higher domestic production.

The share of coal in cargoes handled at major ports fell to about 18 percent in August from 21 percent a year ago, the data showed, following India’s push to use more domestic coal and cut import dependency.

India’s coal imports fell for the second straight year in 2017, and declined by 8.1 percent in the first quarter of fiscal year 2018.

Coal workers travel on the back of their lorry in Barsana, India, June13, 2017. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton/Files

The south Asian nation, home to the fourth biggest reserves of coal in the world, will have to continue importing coal due to insufficient domestic availability of coking coal and existence of power plants designed to use imported coal.

India is currently grappling with fuel shortages at some of its thermal power plants due to transportation issues and a decline in hydro and nuclear electricity generation, an issue that the government says is temporary and expects to resolve soon.

However, the absence of a timely resolution could force power plants to import coal to address power demand.

Iron ore shipments rose 39 percent in August, making up for the fall in coal and fertilizer shipments, the data showed. Overall cargo traffic remained flat at 51.99 million tonnes.

Resumption of iron ore mining in the south-western state of Goa has boosted iron ore traffic, the shipping ministry said in a statement.

Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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