Indian steelmaker Tata Steel imported about 75 Kt of coal from Russia in the second half of May, two trade sources and one government source said, weeks after pledging to stop doing business with Russia.

According to a report by news agency Reuters, Tata Steel had said in April all its manufacturing sites in India, the UK and the Netherlands had sourced alternative supplies of raw materials to end its dependence on Russia, adding it was taking 'a conscious decision to stop doing business with Russia.'

Still, in May, Tata Steel shipped about 75 Kt of PCI coal, used in steelmaking, from Russia's Vanino port, out of which 42 Kt were offloaded in a port in Paradip on 18 May and 32.5 Kt in Haldia, said the two trade sources who wished to remain anonymous as they were not authorised to speak on the matter.

A spokesman for Tata Steel said the deal to import coal from Russia was made before the company's announcement to cut business ties with Russia, without providing further details.

"There has been no other PCI Coal purchase by Tata Steel from Russia after the announcement."

Spokesman for Tata Steel

"There has been no other PCI Coal purchase by Tata Steel from Russia after the announcement," the spokesman said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

India has refrained from condemning Russia - with which it has longstanding political ties - over what Moscow describes as its ‘special operations’ in Ukraine. India has instead defended its purchase of Russian goods as a bid to diversify supplies and argues that a sudden halt would boost prices and hurt consumers.

Tata Steel was the only major steelmaker to announce it would stop doing business with Russia. Other Indian steelmakers have been importing bulk quantities of coal from Russia, trade data reviewed by Reuters showed.

The PCI coal was imported in a vessel named Panamax Ostria, the trade sources said. The government source confirmed Tata Steel had imported 75 Kt tonnes of coal from Russia in May, but did not give more details.

Cheap coal supplies are especially crucial to Indian steelmakers now, as they are reeling from export duties imposed by the Indian government last month to curb local inflation.

According to experts, the 15% export duty is making exports significantly less attractive going forward, which in turn is exerting pressure on domestic steel prices and industry capacity utilization levels.

Source: Reuters