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India suspends coal block auctions amid supply surplus, low demand

India's Coal Ministry has postponed future plans toauction off coalblocks as it struggles to manage high coal production and low demand, The New Indian Express reported Sept. 28.

"Since there were very limited takers during theprevious round of auction ... we have shelved it for a while," ministry officialssaid. "We will wait [until] the market conditions become conducive forauctions."

Growth in power generation has not been able to keepup with increased production, which was fueled by the government's goal toproduce 1 billion tonnes of coal by 2020, the report said. The goal was setbased on an estimated 8% to 9% annual growth in coal demand for power generation.So far, the actual growth has only hit 4%.

Thirteen of the 29 mines auctioned so far haveproduced over 20 million tonnes of coal, and the rest of the mines are expectedto add to the output by end of March 2017, according to the report.

Still, Coal Secretary Anil Swarup anticipates a demandsurge approaching. "Most of the demand for coal comes in the second halfof the year. We will export only when our domestic requirements are fully metand then we are left with the fuel," Swarup said.