COALTRANS INDIA: PCI interest grows as India seeks coking coal options

Consumption of pulverised coal injection (PCI) material could rise in India as the country seeks options for its heavy reliance on imported coking coal, Steel First has heard.

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The projection was given to delegates at the 13th Coaltrans India conference on Thursday March 6.

“We are looking at alternative means to reduce coal consumption, and one strategy is to increase auxiliary sources such as PCI,” Arti Luniya, executive director of the coal import group at steelmaker Steel Authority of India (Sail), said.

“I’m surprised that PCI options haven’t been explored more yet,” Dr Ahmed Firoz, chief economist for the joint plant committee in India’s Ministry of Steel, said at the same event.

Only 2% of India’s total coal reserves of 33 billion tonnes are considered premium coking coal material, Sail chairman CS Verma said earlier at the conference.

The South Asian country imports the majority of its coking coal needs, with demand likely to more than triple by 2025 to 170 million tonnes, on planned increases in steelmaking capacity.

With seaborne prices for coking coal at their lowest levels since 2009, and with Steel First’s daily hard coking coal index at $112.44 per tonne fob Australia on March 6, Indian mills were keen to reduce costs of the raw material.

Introducing alternative technologies that do not require coking coal, such as gas-based steel production processes, and exploring investment opportunities in overseas assets, were also mentioned as ways to tackle India’s dependence on coking coal imports.