The BC government has recently made some strides to increase coal exports from the province by signing a ‘cooperation’ agreement, signed by the Ministry of International Trade of British Columbia (Canada) and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) which operates the Visakhapatnam steel plant.
Premier Christie Clark and Union Minister of Steel Beni Prasad Verma were witness to the signing of the agreement done by British Columbia Minister for International Trade Teresa Wat and RINL Chairman and Managing Director AP Choudhary.
With coal prices at a recent low, this comes as good news for communities such as Tumbler Ridge with a decent sized reliance on the exportation of coal to markets such as China and Japan.
According to Reuters, India is expected to import 35 million tonnes of coking coal this year. The Indian government expects they will require an increase of 47 million tonnes per year by 2017.
The press release published in the New Indian Express states, “The agreement expresses the intent to promote and expand bilateral cooperation in the minerals and mining sector, to explore and encourage investment opportunities, development and exploration of mining related projects and exchange of technological research and innovation.”
Chris Stannell, Senior Communications Specialist for Teck says, “India is currently a market for Teck and we see potential for growth. As the Indian economy and middle class continue to grow, demand for products Teck produces like copper, zinc and steelmaking coal will grow in tandem.”
With most of the coal in Tumbler Ridge currently going to markets like China and Japan, how easy would a shift be to start selling more coal to India?
Caroline McAndrews, Communications Manager for the Ministry of International Trade and Minister Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism says, “Indian companies, like RINL, have become very interested in BC coal in the last year, in part due to the efforts of the expanded BC Trade and Investment team on the ground in India,” she continues, “Coking coal (for steel) makes the most sense given that the price is higher than for thermal coal. The considerable sea freight charges to India given the distance make up the landed thermal coal prices less competitive than coking coal.”
McAndrews explains the document that BC signed with RINL was an initial show of commitment to work with the company to help them find suitable partners in BC for off-take and investment. She says, “Our trade and investment team in Vancouver and India will continue working with the company over the coming months to help realize agreements in these two areas.”
These teams are currently working with a number of interested Indian companies, introducing them and arranging meetings with BC companies that are interested in selling coal or attracting investment.