New Delhi: Coal shipments handled by major Indian ports in August fell over 14% from a year earlier to 9.3 million tonnes, government data showed, as demand for overseas coal declined due to higher domestic production.

The share of coal in cargoes handled at major ports fell to about 18% in August from 21% a year ago, the data showed, following India’s push to use more domestic coal and cut import dependency.

India’s coal imports fell for the second straight year in 2017, and declined by 8.1% in the first quarter of fiscal year 2018.

Home to the fourth biggest reserves of coal in the world, India will have to continue importing coal due to insufficient domestic availability of coking coal and existence of power plants designed to use imported coal.

India is currently grappling with fuel shortages at some of its thermal power plants due to transportation issues and a decline in hydro and nuclear electricity generation, an issue that the government says is temporary and expects to resolve soon.

However, the absence of a timely resolution could force power plants to import coal to address power demand.

Iron ore shipments rose 39% in August, making up for the fall in coal and fertilizer shipments, the data showed. Overall cargo traffic remained flat at 51.99 million tonnes.

Resumption of iron ore mining in Goa has boosted iron ore traffic, the shipping ministry said in a statement. Reuters

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