NEW DELHI: Australia has assured India of steady supplies of coking coal, two Indian government sources said on Friday, as domestic mills grapple with shortages of the key steelmaking raw material and a surge in prices.
Nagendra Nath Sinha, the most senior official at India’s federal Ministry of Steel, met Philip Green, Australia’s high commissioner to India in New Delhi and both sides discussed coking coal supplies and other issues, including decarbonisation efforts of Indian steel companies.
Australia accounts for over half of India’s coking coal imports of around 70 million metric tons a year.
“Australia remains an important partner and has assured us they will continue to be a reliable supplier,” one of the sources said, declining to be identified, as they were not authorised to talk to the media.
The federal Ministry of Steel and the Australian High Commission did not immediately reply to emails seeking comment.
On Wednesday, Reuters reported the Indian government would request Australia to take measures to ensure steady supplies of coking coal, as prices of the raw material have also surged in the past month.
“We have been asking for dedicated supplies of coking coal because apart from competing demand from other countries, there are weather-related disruptions that we face in Australia,” a senior executive at a steel mill said. He didn’t wish to be identified because he was not authorised to talk to the media.
As erratic weather conditions hit coking coal supplies from Australia, Indian steel mills have been trying to turn to other countries such as Russia to take advantage of cheaper prices. Still, major Indian producers rely on Australia, especially for some specific grades of the commodity.
Other than Australia and Russia, India also imports coking coal from the United States.
Last month, prices for Australian coking coal jumped 50% to over $350 a metric ton due to factors such as maintenance outages, lower than usual supplies from Queensland, and a slower train network.