Coal India output sinks to record low as monsoons flood mines

Coal mine in Jharkhand, India. (Image: Screenshot of Sandeep Sharma video | YouTube)

Coal India Ltd.’s monthly production dropped to a record low as the heaviest rains in 25 years flooded mines and hindered shipments.

The Kolkata-based state miner produced 30.77 million tons of coal in September, down 24% from a year earlier and the lowest in data back to 2013, according to a stock exchange filing Tuesday. Shipments dropped 20% to 35.18 million tons, the lowest in five years.

The slump in output and shipments at the world’s biggest coal producer is squeezing supplies to customers, including power plants, aluminum smelters and cement companies. Coal inventories at the country’s power plants have declined to a nine-month low, spurring higher imports.

“This year, the monsoon has been unusually long and that has affected output at mines,” said Rupesh Sankhe, an analyst at Elara Securities in Mumbai. “The workers’ strike last month also caused output disruption. The target of 660 million tons production this fiscal looks steep.”

Output at Coal India’s Talcher coalfields in Odisha is yet to return to its full potential, as its Bharatpur mine remains closed since an accident in July, according to Dikken Mehra, spokesman for Mahanadi Coalfields, a unit of Coal India that runs the mine.

(By Rajesh Kumar Singh)

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