NEW DELHI, March 27 (Reuters) – India is leaning towards continuing to import coking coal from Russia, the steel minister said on Sunday, appearing to buck the global trend of avoiding Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.
“We are moving towards importing coking coal from Russia,” Ramchandra Prasad Singh told a conference in New Delhi.
India plans to double its imports of Russian coking coal, a key ingredient in steelmaking, the minister said. He said the country had imported 4.5 million tonnes but did not indicate the period he was referring to.
Western countries and Japan have imposed surprisingly heavy sanctions on the government of President Vladimir Putin and those associated with him. India, a major buyer of Russian goods, from raw materials to weapons, abstained in several key United Nations votes condemning the February 24 invasion.
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Russia’s “regular supplies” of coking coal have been affected, Singh said, in an apparent reference to the war. He did not specify.
Ships carrying at least 1.06 million tonnes of coking coal, mainly used for steelmaking, and thermal coal used mainly for power generation, are expected to deliver fuel to Indian ports this month, the most since January 2020, according to data from consulting firm Kpler.
Russia, usually India’s sixth-largest supplier of coking coal and thermal coal, could start offering more competitive prices to Chinese and Indian buyers as European and other customers shun Russia over sanctions, traders say.
Trade could also be boosted by a ruble-rupee trade deal, they said.
Reporting by Neha Arora in New Delhi; Written by Rupam Jain, William Mallard