The demand-supply gap is widening continuously encouraging higher imports. India ranks fourth in coal imports. Currently, the major thermal coal import sources are Indonesia, Australia and South Africa. Canada, Mozambique and the USA are amongst the emerging supply sources. Existing coal handling capacity at the ports is around 85-90 million tons per annum (MnTPA). This needs to be increased to at least 120 MnTPA in the next two years. Further, the present capacity has to be doubled by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan (FYP) period.
CIL is not importing any coal as such. However, according to the present import policy of Government, coal is placed under Open General License (OGL) [OGL enables consumer to import coal as per their requirement]. India imports different variety of coal largely from Indonesia, South Africa and Australia suiting its requirement. Indian coal is of low kcal and high ash. Thus, high quality imported coal is blended with low kcal and high ash content domestic coal and plant heat rate is matched to generate energy.
There also persist certain concerns surrounding coal imports such as narrow supporting infrastructure, huge price gap between imported and domestic coal, changing regulations in the supplier nations. The current scenario may get even worse if railways, roads and ports are not developed in pace with the proposed capacity addition. Further, there are very few good mining equipment and machinery manufacturers in India. Coal as a sector is monopolistic and remains factually closed to private players except in end user segment. With deemed production level of CIL & SCCL and issues around imported coal market, Indian power sector is going through capacity utilization stress.