Lower demand from the power sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic reduced state-run Coal India Ltd’s (CIL) production by a marginal 1 per cent during the financial year 2020-21. CIL produced 596.2 million tonnes (MT) as compared to 602.1 MT during the previous financial year.
On the other hand, coal offtake saw a decline of 1.3 per cent to 573.8 MT compared to 581.4 MT in 2019-20. “Despite our best efforts there was a marginal contraction in output and off-take by 1 percent and 1.3 percent respectively on a year-on-year comparison due to COVID-led lack of demand,” the company said in a statement.
Primarily, what affected CIL’s supplies was reduced coal lifting by the power sector and a steep 31 percent fall in road transport despite the company’s efforts to convert traffic from road to rail during the lockdown period. Coordinated efforts with Railways witnessed loading from CIL’s own sources go up by 11 percent on a year-on-year comparison. “The shrinkage in supplies could have been more if not for the spate of actions and sops offered to our customers”, said a company statement.
The lack of demand also led to a stockpile of 99 MT at CIL pitheads. Further production would have resulted in stocks building up even higher. “On the positive side with the expected demand revival during summer months of the first quarter, the company has sufficient buffer to meet any surge and the stocks would be reduced substantially,” the statement added.
The company claimed that it was successful in curbing coal imports to the tune of 90 MT during the financial year 2020-21. Also, beating the previous estimates the PSU coal major booked an all-time high of 124 MT in its e-auctions, eclipsing the previous record of 113.6 MT achieved in 2016-17. Compared to 66 MT booked in 2019-20, CIL logged a strong 88 per cent growth in auction bookings. In absolute terms, the increase was 58 million tonnes.