IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


6th July, 2023 Geography

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An overview of the situation in India where a safeguard probe has been initiated due to a sudden and sharp increase in imports of metallurgical coke.


  • India has launched a safeguard probe in response to a complaint by domestic industries regarding a sudden surge in imports of metallurgical coke.
  • The complainants allege that the increased inbound shipments of low ash metallurgical coke are negatively impacting the industry.
  • BLA Pvt Ltd, Jindal Coke Ltd, Saurashtra Fuels, Vedanta Malco Energy, and Visa Coke Ltd have filed an application with the Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) under the commerce ministry.

Reasons for Initiation of Safeguard Investigation

  • The DGTR has stated that there is sufficient evidence to support the initiation of a safeguard investigation based on the petitioners' application.
  • The investigation aims to determine if there has been a sudden and significant increase in imports of metallurgical coke in India.
  • It will assess whether the increased imports are a result of unforeseen developments and whether they have caused or pose a threat of serious injury to the domestic industry.

Nature of Safeguard Measures

  • Safeguard measures, such as duty or quantitative restrictions, are trade remedies available to World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries.
  • These measures are imposed to create a level playing field for domestic players in the event of a sudden and substantial increase in imports of a specific product.

Usage and Importance of Metallurgical Coke

  • Metallurgical coke serves as a primary fuel in various industries including steel plants, chemical plants, ferro alloy plants, foundries, and pig iron plants.

Applicants and Import Data

  • The applicants, including BLA Pvt Ltd, Jindal Coke Ltd, Saurashtra Fuels, Vedanta Malco Energy, and Visa Coke Ltd, are engaged in the production of metallurgical coke in India.
  • The DGTR will consider import data from the fiscal year 2022-23 for the investigation.
  • According to the notification, imports of metallurgical coke from April to December 2022 increased by 40% to 10.03 lakh tonnes.

Factors Influencing Increased Imports

  • The petitioners claim that the surge in imports can be attributed to unforeseen factors such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict and sanctions imposed on Russia by Western countries.
  • The global increase in coal prices, driven by higher raw material costs (coking coal), has led to an escalation in the production cost of metallurgical coke for domestic producers.
  • Sanctions on Russia, a major coal exporter, have caused supply constraints and price hikes. China has benefitted from proximity to Russia, gaining freight advantages.

About Metallurgical Coke

  • Metallurgical coke, also known as met coke or coke breeze, is a carbonaceous material derived from the destructive distillation of coal in the absence of air.
  • It is a hard, porous, and carbon-rich material with high carbon content (typically ranging from 85% to 90%).

Production Process

  • Metallurgical coke is produced by heating specific grades of coal in the absence of air in a coke oven or coking chamber.
  • The coal is heated to high temperatures (around 1000 to 1100 degrees Celsius) in the presence of controlled amounts of heat and pressure.
  • The volatile components of coal, such as water, tar, and gases, are driven off, leaving behind the solid carbonaceous residue known as metallurgical coke.

Properties and Characteristics

  • Metallurgical coke has several important properties that make it suitable for various industrial applications:
    1. High Carbon Content: Met coke has a high carbon content, which provides it with excellent fuel properties and makes it an efficient source of heat in industrial processes.
    2. Porosity: It possesses a porous structure that allows for the efficient flow of gases and facilitates the combustion process.
    3. Low Moisture Content: Met coke has a low moisture content, which contributes to its high calorific value and ensures efficient burning.
    4. High Strength: It has good mechanical strength, enabling it to withstand the physical demands of industrial operations.
    5. Low Ash Content: Met coke has relatively low ash content, which reduces impurities and helps maintain product quality.


  • Metallurgical coke finds extensive use in various industries:
    1. Steel Production: It serves as a primary fuel and reducing agent in blast furnaces for the production of iron and steel. Met coke reacts with iron ore to remove impurities, facilitating the extraction of molten iron.
    2. Chemical Industry: Met coke is used in the production of chemicals, such as calcium carbide, which is essential for manufacturing acetylene gas, synthetic rubber, and other chemical compounds.
    3. Foundries: It is utilized in foundries for melting metals and alloys, providing the necessary heat and reducing agents for the casting process.
      • Ferroalloy Production: Met coke is crucial in the production of ferroalloys, which are alloy metals used in the steelmaking process to introduce specific desirable properties.
  • Pig Iron Production: It is employed in the manufacturing of pig iron, an intermediate product used in the production of steel and cast iron.

Importance in the Steel Industry

  • Metallurgical coke plays a vital role in the steel industry due to the following reasons:
    1. Fuel Source: It provides the primary source of fuel for the intense heat required in blast furnaces during iron and steel production.
    2. Chemical Reducing Agent: Met coke acts as a reducing agent by reacting with iron ore, facilitating the extraction of iron and removing impurities.
    3. Structural Support: The strength and porosity of met coke allow for the uniform distribution of gases, ensuring efficient combustion and maintaining furnace integrity.

Environmental Concerns

  • The production and use of metallurgical coke raise environmental concerns due to its association with carbon emissions and air pollution.
  • Efforts are being made to develop alternative processes and technologies that reduce the environmental impact of coke production, such as the use of bio-coke or carbon capture and storage (CCS) techniques.


Q) Which of the following statements about metallurgical coke is correct?

A) Metallurgical coke is produced by burning coal in the presence of air.

B) It is primarily used as a fuel in the production of aluminum.

C) Metallurgical coke has a high moisture content, which enhances its combustion efficiency.

D) Its porous structure allows for efficient flow of gases during industrial processes.

Ans: D