Focus: GS-III Indian Economy, Industry and Infrastructure
Why in news?
India’s thermal coal imports rose 12.6% to nearly 200 million tonnes in 2019, government data reviewed by Reuters showed, reflecting the second straight year of growth in shipments of the fuel despite attempts by the government to cut imports.
India’s Coal Imports
- Coal is among the top five commodities imported by India, the world’s largest consumer, importer and producer of the fuel.
- India imported 51.33 million tonnes of coking coal in 2019, down from 51.63 million tonnes in 2018, the data showed.
- Imports of thermal coal — mainly used for power generation — jumped 12.6% to 197.84 million tonnes in 2019.
- However, imports of coking coal — used mainly in the manufacturing of steel — fell marginally, following two straight years of increase, government data showed.
- While higher coal imports may be bad news for the Indian government, they benefit international miners.
Types of Coal
As geological processes apply pressure to dead biotic material over time, under suitable conditions, its metamorphic grade or rank increases successively into:
- Peat, a precursor of coal
- Lignite, or brown coal, the lowest rank of coal, most harmful to health, used almost exclusively as fuel for electric power generation
- Jet, a compact form of lignite, sometimes polished; used as an ornamental stone since the Upper Palaeolithic
- Sub-bituminous coal, whose properties range between those of lignite and those of bituminous coal, is used primarily as fuel for steam-electric power generation.
- Bituminous coal, a dense sedimentary rock, usually black, but sometimes dark brown, often with well-defined bands of bright and dull material. It is used primarily as fuel in steam-electric power generation and to make coke.
- Anthracite, the highest rank of coal is a harder, glossy black coal used primarily for residential and commercial space heating.
- Graphite is difficult to ignite and not commonly used as fuel; it is most used in pencils, or powdered for lubrication.
- Cannel coal (sometimes called “candle coal”) is a variety of fine-grained, high-rank coal with significant hydrogen content, which consists primarily of liptinite.
- There are several international standards for coal.
- The classification of coal is generally based on the content of volatiles. However the most important distinction is between thermal coal (also known as steam coal), which is burnt to generate electricity via steam; and metallurgical coal (also known as coking coal), which is burnt at high temperature to make steel.