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India's Coal Imports Jump 19 Per Cent In 2014

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Coal shipments to India, the world's third-largest importer, rose 19 per cent to 210.6 million tonnes last year driven by an even bigger jump in purchases of the variety used in power generation, online trader mjunction said.
 
Imports have risen over the past four years as India adds capacity to supply round-the-clock power to its 1.2 billion people, a third of whom live without electricity.
 
Lower-than-expected output from state giant Coal India is also boosting imports.
 
At 163 million tonnes, imports of thermal coal used by power companies jumped 22 percent in 2014. Coking coal, a steelmaking raw material, saw a 4 percent rise to 37 million tonnes, according to the provisional data from mjunction.
 
Anthracite coal, met coke and pet coke made up the rest of the shipments.
 
Imports fell slightly in December to 15.30 million tonnes as good weather helped Coal India ramp up supply.
 
The government does not regularly release coal import figures. Mjunction's data is based on port figures, monitoring of vessel positions and data from shipping firms.
 
Coal Industry Strike
Coal India may not maintain the pace in January: workers at the world's top coal producer began a five-day strike on Tuesday in protest at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's move to allow private companies to mine and sell the fuel for the first time in 42 years.
 
Over 75 per cent of India's daily coal output has been hit as the five-day strike by workers of state-run miners entered the second day on Wednesday, raising fears of disruption in power supplies.
 
While talks between the striking workers union and the government resumed with Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal deciding to intervene, there were reports of clashes between workers and police in Jharkhand.
 
Besides Goyal, those involved in the discussions included Coal India Chairman Sutirtha Bhattacharya and senior Coal Ministry officials.
 
As many as 290 out of 438 coal mines of state-run Coal India Ltd (CIL) had to be shut because of the strike, which is being termed as the largest industrial action in four decades, while many other mines across the country have also been hit.
 
There are concerns that the strike may severely hit fuel supply to over 100 thermal power plants across the country, as the emergency coal arrangements may not last long.
 
The state governments in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, among others, expressed apprehension about possible electricity crisis if the strike continues for a longer period, and that they are monitoring the situation.
 
Unions alleged that CIL management was trying to bring in temporary workers to operate the 290 shut mines.
 
As talks with Coal Secretary Anil Swarup failed to yield any positive outcome late on Tuesday night, union leaders said they wanted political leadership to come to the negotiating table.
 
"The strike has turned aggressive today. More than 75 per cent of the production has been affected. Most of our mines are badly hit," a top Coal India official said on Wednesday.
 
(Agencies)