Stating that global steel production is dependent on coal, Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) chairman, C.S. Verma said it was high time that Indian steel industry adopts a multi-pronged strategy to bring in coal securitisation.

At present, around 70 per cent of total production relies directly on the input of coal. In 2010, 761 million tonne of coking coal and Pulverised Coal Injection (PCI) coal was used in global steel production, which is around 13 per cent of total coal consumption worldwide.

“Going forward, the Indian steel industry has to adopt a multi-pronged strategy to bring in coal securitisation which includes reducing coal consumption in steel plants through modernisation which would increase the thermal efficiencies of the processes thus reducing coking coal consumption; part replacement of costly and scarce coking coal by less costly and relatively easily available non coking coal primarily through increasing PCI (which replaces coke by non-coking coal thus reducing coking coal requirement) and adopting coke making technologies which can use higher quantities of non-coking/semi coking coal.

He said technologies like dry cleaned and agglomerated pre-compaction system (DAPS) which can allow usage of up to 30 per cent of semi/non coking coal in the conventional top charged batteries; stamp charged batteries (both non-recovery and recovery types) which can use up to 40 per cent of semi/non coking coal; new coke making technologies like Super Coke Oven for Productivity and Environmental enhancement toward the 21st century (SCOPE 21) being developed in Japan which will allow usage of up to 50 per cent of semi/non coking coal.

Mr. Verma said FINEX is a technology for production of molten iron from iron ore fines and non-coking coal. It completely eliminates the need for coke making, which can use iron ore fines and non-coking coal, for production of high quality iron. In this context, he pointed out that technologies like FASTMET/FASTMELT which can use steel plant’s dust and sludge to produce DRI and molten pig iron without coke would be increasingly relevant for the steel plants of the future.

He said the quality of coking coal available is quite inferior so much so that sometimes costlier imports prove more economical. As of today, India’s coking coal consumption is about 55 MT while 25 MT is the domestic production. As a result, around 30 MT i.e. 55 per cent of India’s coking coal requirement is met by imports, 75 per cent of which comes from Australia. With the ambitious growth in steel making, coking coal demand in the country is set to jump by as much as 22 per cent in 2012-13. By 2020, coking coal import by India’s expanding steel sector is expected to treble from current 30 MT to about 90 MT.

Japan is the largest importer of coking coal in the world at about 74 MT (out of total coal imports of 175 million tonnes) with majority of it being sourced from Australia. Lately, Indonesia has also started figuring in its coking coal import basket. In the coming years, rising requirements from China and India would lead to a demand supply gap in global trade of coking coal. Also, there would be limited new production from countries like Mozambique, Indonesia and Mongolia, at least until 2015-16. Canada may emerge as a bigger player and Australia’s shipping constraints would pose a threat, he added.

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