New Delhi: Coal imports declined by 19.2 percent to 16.38 million tonnes last month on the back of sufficient availability of domestic fuel.
Imports in May last year stood at 20.29 million tonnes, according to mjunction services, an online procurement and sales platform jointly floated by SAIL and Tata Steel.
According to mjunction services CEO & MD Viresh Oberoi, the import of non-coking coal was lower as most of the domestic coal-based power plants, particularly PSU power plants, had cut down significantly on their use of imported coal due to ample availability of domestic coal.
As per data available with mjunction, in April, there was a 50 percent decline in coal imports by domestic coal based power plants which use imported coal for blending purposes, he said.
The coal import by these plants stood at only 2.30 million tonnes in April this year as compared to 4.56 million tonnes imported in the same month of 2015.
However, coal imports by imported coal-based power plants during the month stood at 3.83 MT, up 3 percent.
Oberoi said there appears to be some slowdown in non-coking coal import by cement plants as well as some of them have switched to pet coke due to comparatively soft trend in prices of pet coke from November last year.
Pet coke imports in April was up 12.79 percent compared with the corresponding month of previous year, he added.
Helped by a record coal production by the world's largest coal miner Coal India Ltd (CIL), India reduced its import bill of the dry fuel by more than Rs 28,000 crore last fiscal.
"Record coal production by CIL leads to a reduction in import by 34.26 million tonnes (MT). Results in a saving of Rs 28,070 crore in foreign exchange during 2015-16," Coal Secretary Anil Swarup had earlier said in a tweet.
The government had earlier said India plans to completely stop thermal coal imports in 2-3 years that would result in annual savings of Rs 40,000 crore.