Coal production from captive mines raises 24% output in April-December

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Published: January 21, 2020 1:40:24 AM

Coal companies have to moderate production according to off-take, as coal cannot be stockpiled beyond a certain quantity without the risk of catching fire.

coal, coal productionProduction by CIL declined 5.8% annually to 388.4 MT in the first nine months of FY20, mainly due to excessive rainfall hampering mining operations during the monsoons.

Coal production from captive mines in the first nine months of the ongoing financial year was up 24% year-on-year (y-o-y) at 40.93 million tonne (MT). However, about 53% of the output came from coal blocks, which were not cancelled by the Supreme Court in its September 2014 order.

The apex court had then cancelled 204 out of 218 captive coal block licences, saying these had been allocated in an illegal and arbitrary manner. After the apex court ruling, 36 captive coal mines have been auctioned so far. Of these, 11 are producing coal at present. Allocations of nine mines have been terminated for various reasons.

The Union government has recently issued the Mineral Laws Amendment Ordinance, 2020, which removes end-use restrictions in coal blocks to be put up for auctions, essentially ending the practice of captive mining and allowing coal mine developers to sell the fuel to consumers in the open market. The MMDR Act, 1957, and the CMSP Act, 2015, have also been amended to allocate coal blocks for composite prospecting licence-cum-mining lease to make it more attractive for commercial mining. This has put an end to the long-held monopoly of public-sector behemoth Coal India (CIL).

Production by CIL declined 5.8% annually to 388.4 MT in the first nine months of FY20, mainly due to excessive rainfall hampering mining operations during the monsoons. Law and order issues in some major mines and several employee union strikes after the Cabinet’s February 2019 decision to ease mining norms for private companies also hampered the world’s largest miner’s production. CIL’s supply to the power sector also shrank 8.1% annually to 334.3 MT in April-December FY20. However, power plants are currently stocked with coal, which can last them for as many as 19 days. The fuel reserves had critically come down to 11 days in the same period last year. Experts have attributed lower coal off-take by power plants to muted electricity demand amid economic slowdown.

Coal companies have to moderate production according to off-take, as coal cannot be stockpiled beyond a certain quantity without the risk of catching fire.

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