NEW DELHI India's coal imports inched up 1.7 percent in February, the first rise in eight months, Coal Secretary Anil Swarup told Reuters on Monday, but suggested it may have been a temporary increase based on deals signed earlier.
Imports rose to 16.79 million tonnes from 16.51 million a year ago, ending a downward trend that began in July and lasted until January.
"This is just a marginal increase ...," Swarup said. "It could be on account of a booking made earlier by an importer."
State behemoth Coal India has been boosting output at a record pace though consumption has grown slower-than-expected, forcing the company to scale down activity in some mines.
India does not have enough good quality resources of steelmaking coal and that grade is imported from countries such as Australia and South Africa.
(Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Anand Basu)
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