The government is exploring the possibility of putting under the hammer around seven to eight more coal blocks for commercial mining by private players, taking the total number of mines to be auctioned to up to 12. “So we are examining the possibility of adding some more mines for commercial mining which are smaller, and some work has already happened on them. So the process can start faster and bring in more flexibility in availability of coal,” Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal, who was on a visit to Austria and the UK from May 10-13 for an Energy Dialogue, told PTI. India is in the process of throwing open commercial mining to private firms for the first time in four decades, with the aim of shifting the world’s third-biggest importer towards self-sufficiency.
“That could be about 7-8 mines which are smaller in number. So, in total, four large mines and 7-8 small mines would be auctioned,” the minister said. The government had earlier said that opening up of commercial coal mining to private companies will bring in completion in the coal sector and reduce power tariff. The Centre had said it wanted to convey to potential investors that sustainable and efficient mining, not revenue maximisation, is the idea behind commercial mine auction.
As per the Coal Mines Special Provision Act of 2015, the government can open up commercial coal mining for private players. With a chunk of population going without electricity, the government had said that it would ensure that these people get power. A group of secretaries had earlier suggested that the government should create competition for Coal India by opening up commercial coal mining.