Innovative mining, faster clearances to boost coal supplies

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Nov 30 2012, 08:57am hrs
India can improve its coal supplies by adopting innovative mining practices and technologies and building better infrastructure for coal evacuation, besides streamlining environment-clearance procedures, says an industry report released on Wednesday.

Bottlenecks in domestic coal transportation and lack of proper road connectivity further heighten the challenge. Also, availability of railway wagons and a mismatch of demand and supply of wagons and coal offtake affect production capacity. Delay in mining activities at captive coal blocks and concerns relating to the increasing ash content of run-of-mine (ROM) coal hinder production, according to the report, 'The Indian Coal Sector: Challenges and Future Outlook', prepared by consulting firm PWC, in partnership with the Indian Chamber of Commerce.

Some 179 forestry proposals of Coal India are awaiting clearances and if all approvals are secured on time, it can more than double its output to 1,132 million tonne (mt), provided that mines start production from 2016-17. A majority of coal projects have been halted and delayed due to issues in acquiring land and strict rules and regulations (R&R). Even subsidiaries of CIL, such as MCL in Angul, face issues pertaining to R&R, the report said.

The policy for captive mining was introduced in 1993. But no promising progress has been made in the captive coal blocks allotted by the government. Out of the 200 allocated blocks (22 have been de-allocated), only 30 mines have commenced production. The combined production from these was merely 36.30 mt in FY 2010-11 against a target of 104 mt.

About 57% or 118.7 giga watt (GW) of Indias total installed generating capacity of 207.9 GW is coal-fired while over two-thirds of electricity generation is from coal-based plants. At a global level, coal accounts for 30% of the worlds primary energy consumption. At the end of September 2012, 35 coal-based power plants had less than seven days of coal stocks.

Coal supplies can be increased by adopting measures like single window clearance agency, doing away with multiple registration requirements for miners, transporters, traders and end-users and improving connectivity of mining areas, the report said.