Coal imports, which had reached a peak of 248 Million Ton (MT) in 2019-20, declined continuously during the next two years to 215 MT in 2020-21 and further to 209 MT in 2021-22.
Despite a steep rise in actual demand for coal from 956 MT in 2019-20 to 1027 MT in 2021-22, coal imports have not increased.
Coal imports grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.86% during the period 2009-10 to 2013-14. At this CAGR, coal imports would have reached 705 MT in 2020-21 and further to 866 MT in 2021-22. The import of coal could be checked only by sustaining increased domestic supply over the years.
All India coal production has increased from 716 MT in 2020-21 to 777 MT in 2021-22 resulting in an increase of 61 MT. Therefore, despite a steep rise in actual demand for coal from 906 MT in 2020-21 to 1027 MT in 2021-22, coal imports could be contained due to increased domestic dispatch from 691 MT in 2020-21 to 818 MT in 2021-22.
Domestic dispatch has not only increased to the power sector but also to the non-power sector by 101 MT in 2020-21 to 104 MT in 2021-22.
The decline in coal imports during 2021-22 is largely due to a decrease in imports by the power sector which came down from 45 MT in 2020-21 to 27 MT in 2021-22, a decline of almost 40%.
The decline is steeper when compared with coal imports by the power sector in 2021-22 to the pre-Covid year of 2019-20 when such import was 69 MT. This is despite the fact that total thermal power generation in the country increased to 1115 BU in 2021-22 from 1032 BU in 2020-21, an increase of 83 BU in absolute terms and almost 8 % in percentage terms.
Coking Coal import was 57 MT with a growth of 11.65% during 2021-22 which is largely used in the Steel Sector. However, as compared to the pre-Covid year of 2019-20, the growth in coking coal import is around 10 %.
Coal imported by Non-regulated sectors (Cement, Sponge Iron & Paper etc) increased to 125 MT in 2021-22 from 119 MT in 2020-21 an increase of 5.23 %. Compared to the pre-Covid year of 2019-22, when imports by the non-regulated sector were 127 MT, imports by this sector have actually declined in 2021-22.
Thus, the increase in import of coal by the non-power sector during 2021-22 is largely on account of growth in import of coking coal and import of coal by the non-regulated sector which largely imports high-grade thermal coal. The supply of both these categories of coal is limited in the country.