The Union coal minister recently said India will have so much coal that the country will export it soon. Backing his statement, the secretary, ministry of coal, said domestic coal production will touch 1.5 billion tonnes (BT) and since it will be in surplus it can be exported.
As appealing as the idea sounds, especially at a time when the Centre has opened all the gates for private investment in coal mining, there are caveats before India becomes a coal exporter. The primary and major one is the country’s current “net coal importer” status.
Data compiled by Business Standard shows that over the past decade, India has barely exported any coal (see chart 1). On the other hand, coal imports have been steadily rising after a brief slowdown during Covid. The uptick in imported coal demand has come on the back of rising thermal power demand and imports by non-power sectors that are facing a shortage of domestic supply.
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