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India eyeing more coking coal imports from Russia, Mongolia

The Indian government is in talks to import more coking coal from Russia and Mongolia as it tries to reduce its reliance on Australia, Mining Weekly reported Feb. 12, citing Dharmendra Pradhan, India's petroleum and natural gas minister.

India imported 21.83 million tonnes of coal in November 2019, up 8.6% year over year, with coking coal imports down 5% at 4.18 Mt, Mining Weekly added, citing data from the coal ministry. Coking coal imports fell due to lower capacity utilization by the Indian steel sector amid weaker demand.

Pradhan said India signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation with Russia in undertaking coking coal ventures. Under the terms, India will help Russia with coal exploration and extraction in exchange for importing the dry fuel to India.

Indian state-owned companies such as Coal India Ltd. and Steel Authority of India Ltd. are involved in the discussions, the report said.

India is also in talks with Mongolia for imports of high-quality coking coal at "very reasonable rates," the report added.

India plans to launch auctions for coal mining blocks in an effort to cut coal imports and open the sector to global miners.