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Australia benefits from Indian coal demand

by Staff Writers
Sydney (UPI) Aug 3, 2010
Australia is posed to benefit from India's rising demand for coal imports, analysts say.

The rapid rise of India's economy, which the International Monetary Fund last month forecast would grow 9.5 percent this year, is fueling the country's demand for coal.

Arvind Mahajan, an analyst with KPMG in Mumbai estimates that India will need to import up to 150 million tons of coal in 2015, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. That's 154 percent more than it imported in 2008-09.

India relies on coal-fired power stations to generate more than 70 percent of the country's electricity.

It also needs coking coal for its steel production, which is expected to rise from the current level of about 55 million tons to more than 150 million tons in the next 5 to 10 years. Sanjay Mookim, an analyst with Credit Suisse said that India has 86 coal-fired projects planned, with more than 29 under construction.

Tim Harcourt, chief economist at the Australian Trade Commission predicts India's demand for coal "to outstrip China's."

He said there's an increase in reports of Indian companies negotiating to acquire Australian coal assets.

"Expect a lot of action from India on the trade and investment front," Harcourt wrote in a recent report.

One such example is an announcement Tuesday by Adani Enterprises, India's biggest coal importer that it would buy coal reserves of Australian firm Linc Energy for $456 million.

That gives Adani a 100 percent interest in Linc's Galilee coal tenement in the Galilee Basin, Queensland, with estimated coal reserves of 7.8 billion tons.

Adani said it would import the coal produced from the mines to feed its coast-based power projects in India, which include a 4,620-megawatt power project at Mundra in Gujarat, another 3,300-megawatts near Mundra and 2,640-megawats in Gujarat.

Other Indian companies are also looking to acquire coal reserves.

Partha Bhattacharyya, chairman and managing director of state-run Coal India Limited told the Indian Express last month that it has honed in on five companies with which it intends to sign agreements within the next two months. Two of the companies are in Australia, two in Indonesia and one in the United States.

To handle rising demand, Coal India has invested in a new import terminal able to handle up to 6 million tons of coal imports. Located in the southeast port of Visakhapatnam, it is to open in 2013.

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