NEW DELHI: Union Minister Pralhad Joshi on Tuesday said the government is in the process of identifying blocks to be put up for auction for commercial mining of coal to Indian as well as overseas miners.
Besides, the process for auction of 42 mines to domestic public sector undertaking (PSUs) is also on to scale up output, Coal and Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi said adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants a curb on imports barring 135 million tonnes which is unavoidable.
"Our policy is clear (to invite global players for the rollout of commercial coal mining). We will decide on the numbers and identify blocks at a proper time," Joshi said on the sidelines of India Energy Forum organised by Mining Geological and Metallurgical Institute of India.
The maiden move aimed at cutting coal imports is set to end the monopoly of domestic giant Coal India that accounts for over 80 per cent of India's dry-fuel output.
"Prime Minister has directed me and my Ministry to double the production of coal. Prime Minister has said that he can understand we are importing crude oil, petroleum products but he doesn't understand why are we importing coal which is unacceptable," he said adding PM has directed to curb imports barring 135 million tonnes that are unavoidable for plants.
Addressing the event "Indian Coal: Potential and Diversification", he said although domestic coal production has grown substantially by 165 million tonnes (MT) in last 5 years, still a lot of it has to be imported to bridge the demand-supply gap and there is an urgent requirement of ramping up the domestic coal production.
"Coal India, SCCL and other miners are geared up for enhancing coal production from the current level of 730 MT to 1149 MT by FY 2023 thereby totally eliminating the coal import except for the un-substitutable import of 135 MT," the Minister said adding land acquisition was also one of the reasons behind delays in operationalising mines.
He said the coal PSUs have planned to increase coal production from the present level of 676 MT to 965 MT by the opening of new mines, capacity expansion of existing mines and creation of new evacuation infrastructure.
CIL alone is poised to commission 11 new coking coal washeries in a phased manner to meet the total demand of washed domestic coking coal of steel sector expected to be 10 MT in FY 2022.
He said several initiatives have been taken to establish ease of doing business in coal sector such as -easing of mine plan approval, doing away with the system of previous approval of Centre for grant of mining lease and streamlining the grant of permits and clearances.
He said about 15,000 Hectare of land has already been reclaimed with plantation of nearly 130 million trees and there is a plan for reclamation of nearly 8000 Hectare of broken land.
The Minister said to promote diversified use of coal including conversion of coal to Methanol, CIL has taken up a project at Dankuni Coal Complex in West Bengal using 28 per cent ash from Raniganj coal.
Besides, a coal-based project for the production of Ammonia/Urea has been taken up by a JV Company - Talcher Fertilizer Limited (TFL) in Odisha.
In addition, "three projects have been taken up for CBM/CMM/Pre-drainage of Methane in Raniganj and Jharia Coalfields", he said.
The country's coal imports increased by 28.7 per cent to 24.14 million tonnes in June as against 18.75 million tonnes in the corresponding month of the previous fiscal.
Total imports of thermal coal rose to 56.23 million tonnes during the quarter as compared with the year-ago period. The country's coal imports swelled by about 13 per cent to 235.2 MT during the year-ended March 31, 2019.