Coal to be main thrust of Australian exports to India

Kolkata, April 25 (IANS) On the back of growing demands for coal in India, it would be the mainstay of Australian export to India in the days ahead, the Australian envoy has said.

"India is looking to step up coal production from its own mines, but it will also have to import coal to meet its growing requirement. Coal constitutes a significant portion of the current exports from Australia and it is expected to grow further in the coming years," said Patrick Suckling, Australia's High Commissioner to India.

Suckling was speaking at an interactive session organised by industry association MCC Chamber of Commerce and Industry here Wednesday.

India's coal imports from Australia currently account for over one-third of its total imports from the country.

Last year Australian exports to India were worth $15 billion, while Indian exports to Australia were worth $3 billion, skewing the balance of trade in favour of Australia.

The central government has recently indicated that India may need to import nearly 185 million tonnes of coal to meet the growing demands particularly that of the power sector. Australia and Indonesia are the two key markets from where India imports coal.

On uranium export to India, the Australian envoy said his government was holding talks with India on supplying uranium, a key raw material for nuclear power.

"We are negotiating an agreement to sell uranium to India. Now we have a new policy to sell uranium. But India needs to have safeguards in place so that uranium is used for peaceful purposes," Suckling said.

Australia had earlier refused to supply uranium to India since it was not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. But the policy has subsequently been modified to allow export of uranium to India.

He said Australians were interested to invest in India's mining, finance, natural resources and infrastructure sectors, among other areas.