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Report: India's increase in thermal coal demand boosts Australian coal benchmark

India's thermal coal imports rose to 39.6 million tonnes during the three months ended March 31, up about 15% from the year-ago figure, Reuters reported May 11, citing data from Dubai-based American Fuels, a supplier of coal from the United States. The increase pushed benchmark Australian coal cargo prices above $100 per tonne.

Reuters reported that the country will likely boost its 2018 thermal coal imports after two straight years of declines due to domestic logistic bottlenecks, regulatory changes and surging power demand.

India's demand for coal with a higher calorific value, most of which has to be imported, was increasing due to buyers desiring more energy from the coal they purchase to offset higher prices and logistical problems, mainly from railway delays, the report said, citing Vasudev Pamnani, a senior trader at American Fuels.

About three-fifths of the imported coal came from Indonesia, the report said. Reuters reported that the data showed South Africa as the second-largest source of foreign coal during the first quarter with the U.S. and Australia being the next largest sources.

State-owned Adani Enterprises Ltd., India’s largest coal trader, accounted for about one-sixth of all the imports, purchasing about 6.51 million tonnes during the period, Reuters reported, adding that Tata Group imported 5.23 million tonnes, while Aditya Birla Group's Swiss Singapore imported 2.92 million tonnes and JSW Group taking in 2.48 million tonnes.