The government on Friday said it is likely to auction coal blocks for commercial mining this financial year and is working out details for the same.
The move follows the recent successful auction of coal blocks for captive use to companies, which fetched the government over R2 lakh crore. “It (auction of coal blocks for commercial mining) is likely to happen in the current financial year. The details are being worked out,” coal secretary Anil Swarup said.
Asked how many mines are on the radar, Swarup said, “The ministry is still in the process of identifying blocks.”
The government had earlier said it would allow commercial mining of coal by private companies after allocating mines to public sector companies and auctioning to specific end users.
“First, you give it to the state and central PSUs. Thereafter, you make a pool of all actual users and have an auction… While preserving the character of Coal India, you then start exploring the possibility of commercial mining,” finance minister Arun Jaitley had earlier said.
He, however, had not given a timeline.
The government had earlier promulgated an ordinance for auctioning the 204 coal blocks whose allocation was cancelled by the Supreme Court in September last year. A provision was later added to allow commercial mining by private companies.
According to analysts, allowing private companies into this segment will help raise output as state monopoly Coal India, which produces about 80% of the nation’s coal, has missed its output targets in the past few years.
The government in March had allotted 38 mines to central and state public sector units, including power firms NTPC and DVC, and steel firm SAIL.