By Sudarshan Varadhan
CHENNAI (Reuters) - India's imports of thermal coal grew at the slowest pace in five months in October, data from Indian consultancy Coalmint showed, as higher domestic production slashed demand for seaborne coal.
Imports of the power generation fuel rose for the fifth straight month in October to 12.03 million tonnes, up by 11.5% compared with the same period last year, Coalmint data showed.
Imports in the January-October period rose over 14% to 139.5 million tonnes, the data showed. Output by state-run Coal India, which accounts for 80% of domestic output, rose 11.5% in the same period.
Coal India's production rose for the seventh straight month in October, while supplies fell for the first time in 20 months, as utilities had increased inventories to the highest ever level in October, barring in 2020 when inventories rose to a record due to artificially low power demand because of lockdowns.
The share of South African thermal coal imports rose to the highest levels in recent months as sponge iron makers switched back amid Russian blend concerns, Coalmint said in a report this week.
Still, October imports from Russia were higher than imports from South Africa for the fourth straight month, while Australian imports had gained at the expense of shipments from Indonesia, the data showed.
(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan, Editing by Louise Heavens)