India signs 'cooperation agreement' with British Columbia over coal exports

India is making moves to buy more Canadian coal as the country's leaders anticipate steep increases in demand for the black rock.

A delegation led by Beni Prasad Verma, India's steel minister, recently met with British Columbia's Premier Christy Clark and other BC coal industry representatives, the Vancouver Sun reports.

During the visit BC's minister for international trade signed a 'cooperation agreement' with an Indian-state owned steel producer, Rashtriya Ispat Nigam. According to a release by India's Press Information Bureau, "the agreement  expresses the intent to promote and expand bilateral cooperation in the Minerals & Mining sector" and to "encourage investment opportunities."

The Indian government expects domestic coal demand to rise drastically over the next few years and it's no secret that the Asian giant is looking offshore to meet these demands. In June, state-owned Coal India – the world's largest coal producer by output – announced that it had set aside $1 billion for foreign acquisitions in 2013.

Coal is BC's number one export, bringing in $3.2 billion in provincial GDP in 2011 and accounting for 89% of the nation's coal shipments. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the province potentially holds about 12 billion tonnes of mineable coal resources.

BC's coal producers are no strangers to the Asian market – in 2011 Japan and South Korea purchased 27% and 24% of the province's coal exports respectively. India made up only 1%.

Creative Commons image by: Province of British Columbia