Kolkata: Despite efforts to cut down imports of coking coal, India will have to "heavily depend" on imported coking coal for its plan to produce 300 million tonnes of crude steel by 2030-31, experts said on Tuesday.
About 85 per cent of the current requirement of coking coal is met through imports and increasing the domestic coking coal use to 35 per cent by 2030-31, as per the National Steel Policy, could be a "challenge", they said.
"The national steel policy forecasts coking coal demand of 161 mtpa (million tonnes per annum) by 2030-31, 31 mtpa of non-coking coal for PCI, 105 mtpa of non-coking coal requirement for DRI route," Coal India Ltd's (CIL) former Chairman N.C Jha said.
The policy projects crude steel capacity of 300 million tonnes (mt), production of 255 mt and a robust finished steel per capita consumption of 158 kg by 2030-31, as against the current consumption of 61 kg.
The policy also envisages to domestically meet the entire demand of high grade automotive steel, electrical steel, special steels and alloys for strategic applications and increase domestic availability of washed coking coal so as to reduce import dependence on coking coal from about 85 per cent to around 65 per cent by 2030-31.
Jha said, "35 per cent of total requirement of 161 mtpa coking coal by 2030-31 is about 56.35 mt. This is a challenge to coal and steel producers. India has to heavily depend on imported coking coal for its plan to produce 300 mt of crude steel by 2030-31."
According to Jha, a lot of research and development work has to be undertaken to harness maximum quantity of coal at lower ash from the domestic coal.
Addressing the 12th Indian Coal Markets Conference, Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) Executive Director (Raw Material Division) P. Saidev said the country has 5.31 billion tonnes of prime coking coal, which accounts for just 15.39 per cent of the country's total coking coal reserves of 34.51 billion tonnes.
He said India's coal import increased substantially in the current fiscal as captive power plants are "grappling with the issue of coal shortages".
Overall, coal and coke imports during the first half of the current fiscal increased by 13.9 per cent to 119.42 mt, compared to 104.81 mt in the same period last year, Saidev added.