The Union Ministry of Coal launched a new round of coal mine auction for commercial purposes with the largest-ever basket of 141 mines. Of this, 71 are new mines, 62 from earlier tranches of commercial auctions, and eight being offered as a second attempt of the last round of commercial auctions that did not receive bids.
The coal ministry has auctioned close to 64 coal mines to date under commercial auction.
Senior coal ministry officials said three mines have already commenced production: these are Gare Palma IV/7 awarded to Sarda Mining, Gare Palma IV/1 of Jindal Steel & Power, and Takli-Jena-Bellora mine of Aurobindo Pharma (it recently received final approval to start production).
Speaking at the launch event of the sixth tranche of the commercial coal auction, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “A fast-growing economy like India needs greater investment in coal production and gasification projects. The emphasis is now on coal exploration and mining. After the nationalisation of the 70s, we have moved from the times when only public sector units produced coal. Unfortunately, Coal India couldn’t ramp up capacity in keeping with needs, which led to import of coal.”
She further said the base requirement for thermal power would be facilitated in line with a new policy, for which the Centre and states will need to work together.
Mines falling under protected areas, wildlife sanctuaries, critical habitats, having forest cover greater than 40 per cent, heavily built-up area, etc have been excluded. The block boundaries of some of the coal mines, where there was presence of dense habitation, high green cover or critical infrastructure, have been modified, based on comments received during stakeholder consultations to enhance bidders’ interest and participation in these coal blocks, said a statement by the coal ministry.
The mines being auctioned are spread across coal-/lignite-bearing states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Bihar.
Union Coal Minister Pralhad V Joshi said these coal mines would give Rs 20,000 crore in revenue to states once they become operational.
Coal ministry is exploring alternative methodology for enhanced use of coal. Joshi said the finance ministry has extended Rs 6,000-crore incentive for coal gasification and Rs 250 crore for the process of exploration.
Coal production of the country, he said, will touch 900 million tonnes (mt) by the end of 2022-23 and the national miner Coal India will meet its target of 700 mt of production.