Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 12 January 2011 – South African state-run power utility Eskom faces a looming shortfall of coal supplies, yet the country continues to be among the dominant suppliers of the fuel to power-hungry countries such as India and China, as well as traditional markets in Europe.
According to Indian minister of commerce and industry Anand Sharma, India imported 12Mt of coal from South Africa last year, and that figure is likely to grow as the countries strengthen their trade ties.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Johannesburg office of Indian state-owned trading house MMTC, Sharma said South Africa and India had set themselves a “modest” target of US$15 billion in annual bilateral trade by 2014 “’ up from the US$10 billion projected for 2012.
MMTC is India’s leading importer of thermal coal, coking coal and low ash metallurgical coke for major power and steel operations in India. Indian demand for local coal helped Asia overtake Europe in 2009 as the largest shipping destination for the fuel.
Last year, Richards Bay coal terminal, which ships most of South Africa’s coal exports, sent 59% to Asia and only a quarter to Europe
South African trade and industry minister Rob Davies said the two countries were “well ahead of reaching their 2012 milestone.” He was confident that India and South Africa would reach a free trade agreement in the near future.
India is the sixth-largest destination for South African exports and the eighth largest source of imports into South Africa, according to Davies.