Column: Coal India’s woes should boost imports, but steel softness drags – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – October 16, 2019)

LAUNCESTON, Australia (Reuters) – India’s coal imports are on track to decline for a third straight month in October, a drop that seems out of kilter with the ongoing struggles of state miner Coal India to boost domestic output.

India’s seaborne imports of both thermal and coking coal are on track to be around 13.3 million tonnes this month, according to vessel-tracking and port data compiled by Refinitiv.

This figure is likely to increase somewhat in coming days as more cargoes are confirmed from Indonesia to India, however, any departures now from South Africa and Australia, won’t arrive before month end.

Even if October imports do exceed the current estimate, it’s likely they will still fall short of the 15.3 million tonnes in September, which was down from 15.9 million in August.

The drop in coal imports looks surprising given Coal India’s recent woes, which include the flooding of a major mine and industrial action at some of its operations.

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