India's major state-owned ports handled 17 percent more imported coal in the fiscal year ended March, according to data from the Indian Ports Association (IPA), as its coastal power firms stepped up generation to meet growing demand.
A rush to add power capacity after years of under-investment has forced Indian generators to increase coal imports as state-run domestic monopoly Coal India Ltd has struggled to meet demand. Coal-based power generation rose 8 percent to 587.64 billion kilowatt-hours in April-January.
The rising demand from India, Asia's third-largest economy and the world's No. 3 coal importer, has helped coal producers in Indonesia and Australia cope with global oversupply and a price slump.
Total coal handled by India's 12 major ports jumped to 104.7 million tonnes in 2013/14 from 86.7 million a year earlier, the IPA data showed on Friday.
Thermal coal imports through the ports leaped 22 percent to 71.6 million tonnes, while shipments of cooking coal, used in making steel, rose 18.3 percent to 33.1 million tonnes.
India's major ports handled about two-thirds of coal imports of 137.6 million tonnes in 2012/13. The country has about 176 so-called minor ports.
More than 80 percent of India's coal output comes from Coal India, which has fallen short of its output target for at least the past seven years due to difficulties in obtaining environmental approvals, lack of railway access and other issues.
India's total coal production rose by just about 2 million tonnes to 562.4 million in calendar year 2013.
(Reporting by Krishna N Das; editing by Jane Baird)