New Delhi, March 27 Indian coking coal imports saw a near 9 per cent rise during the April–February period, with steel mills sourcing from nations such as Indonesia, Russia, the US, Mozambique and Canada, as against its largest supplier, Australia.

While coking coal imports from Australia dropped 13 per cent for the 11-month period to 33 .1 million tonnes (against 38 mt in the year-ago-period), shipments from Indonesia, the US and Russia more than doubled.

For instance, coking coal shipments from Indonesia increased 216 per cent year-on-year to 2.62 mt. Shipments in the year-ago-period stood at 0.83 mt. On the other hand, shipments from the US saw a 146 per cent rise to 7.25 mt, as against 2.95 mt in the year-ago-period. In the case of Russia, the YoY increase was 130 per cent to 2.64 mt, as compared to 1.15 mt for the same period in the last fiscal.

Other countries that saw an increase in coking coal shipments included Canada – up 52 per cent YoY to 2.81 mt; and Mozambique – up 22 per cent to 2.34 mt, respectively.

India, the world’s second largest crude steel producer, is also the world’s largest importer of coking coal – a key item for steel-making.

Among the large suppliers, Australia occupied the top spot, followed by the US and Canada. Russia, which was previously amongst the top 10 suppliers, moved up the ranks to emerge the fourth largest supplier, followed by Indonesia at number five. Mozambique, previously among the top four suppliers to Indian mills, has dropped two spots to number 6.

Supply constraints in Australia

Different estimates peg the fall in Australian coking coal shipments between 9 and 30 per cent month-on-month.

While some trade sources peg Australian shipments at 2.8 mt in February (against 3.2 mt in January), CoalMint pegs it at 2.2 mt in February (against 3.4 mt in January).

According to a report by Coalmint, the coal vertical of Steelmint, shipments to India declined “because of a surge in coking coal prices on supply issues”. Exports (from Australia) are expected to rise in March as supply constraints are expected to ease. In addition, demand may rise as Australian coking coal prices have dropped 14 per cent since mid-February.

In Queensland, the key district, coal terminals had serpentine ship queues. In addition, Gladstone Port remained closed from January 29 -- February 11. Inclement weather and a train derailment incident in January had hindered supply, which led to lengthier ship lines at ports in February.