Kolkata, Coal India, which is looking to rationalise its underground mines in view of safety and financial viability, could close about 53 such mines this year, its Chairman Anil Kumar Jha said on Wednesday.
He said manpower would “not be retrenched” if any mine is closed and workers would be re-trained and re-skilled for getting employed in other mines.
“About 43 underground mines were closed last year on grounds of safety and viability. We had inherited many underground mines at the time of nationalisation. That time there were more than 700 mines. Now, with each passing day, we are trying to rationalise mines which are small and not financially viable. For some of the mines, we are trying to amalgamate and turn some of them into opencast,” he said.
“We have given a project to Indian School of Mines to give us a solution about how the underground mines can be managed by closing or by amalgamating or converting into opencast. This exercise is going on,” said Jha, adding that it will take a “concrete shape” in the next six months.
Jha also said, “Not a single manpower would be retrenched and they will be re-skilled and retrained. They will be employed in some other mines.”
The miner has 369 mines at the beginning of the current fiscal, of which 174 are underground, 177 opencast and 18 mixed mines.
Coal production from underground mines in 2017-18 was 30.54 million tonnes compared to 31.48 million tonnes during 2016-17. Production from opencast mines during 2017-18 was 94.62 per cent of total raw coal production.
However, the miner is also taking up new coal mining projects.
A total of 11 coal blocks have been allotted to Eastern Coalfields, Bharat Coking Coal and Western Coalfields and these new blocks will help these subsidiaries produce more than 100 million tonnes of coal per annum in the near future, he said.
He said four coal mining projects with an ultimate capacity of 24.6 million tonnes per annum and a total capital investment of Rs 4,155.46 crore were approved.
Jha said there are 26 operational mines which are contributing more than 55-60 per cent of total production.
Coal India Ltd (CIL) has undertaken rail infrastructure projects for planned growth in production and sales and as many as 13 projects for coal evacuation have been identified, he said.
He said two coking coal washeries were commissioned and plans are on the anvil to set up a non-coking coal washery in Odisha’s Ib-Valley for which a letter of intention was issued.
“Coal India is tasked with meeting challenging targets in the years ahead. Going forward in order to meet the production targets, it needs to step up its growth rate.
“In order to achieve the planned growth in production and extraction in future, the company has undertaken major rail infrastructure projects,” Jha said.
Out of the identified projects, three would be funded by coal companies, four by special purpose vehicles and six by railways, the miner said.
The miner is pursuing an aspirational production target of 652 million tonnes in the current fiscal while it had produced 567.36 million tonnes in 2017-18.
At the 44th Annual General Meeting, Jha informed shareholders that annual grade declaration of the current fiscal was finalised by the Coal Controller Office.
“A total of 386 mines were reassessed and out of these, 61 mines were downgraded and 42 mines were upgraded,” he said in his speech.
In order to monitor coal quality, Jha said, a portal UTTAM (unlocking transparency by third party assessment of mined coal) was launched by the miner to capture the entire life cycle of sample.
According to him, coal reserve stood at 319 billion tonnes upto a depth of 1,200 metres as on April 1, as per the estimated geological resource of India.
CIL is planning to set up a coal-based methanol plant at Dankuni Coal Complex (DCC) of South Eastern Coalfields Limited.
“The methanol to be produced at DCC will likely find a definitive market in the eastern states of India, once the policy of the government for blending of methanol with petrol comes into practice,” he said.
The miner said the capital expenditure for 2018-19 has been set at Rs 9,500 crore.