Kolkata November 6, dmanewsdesk: India is toying with the idea of floating the eighth round of auction of commercial coal mines where in it plans to offer around 40 blocks, union coal secretary Amrit Lal Meena said here today.

While speaking to newsmen after inaugurating the 10th Asian Mining Congress (AMC) & International Mining, Equipment, Minerals & Metals Exhibition (IME 2023), concurrently being held here at Eco Park, Mr Meena disclosed that the Union Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi is likely to make an announcement to this effect on Nov 15 next.

Since the last decade, India has auctioned a total of 152 coal blocks in the past seven tranches. 91 of them are meant for captive purposes while the rest (61) are for commercial purposes.

However, of the 152 blocks, as many as 51 blocks, including five commercial mines, are already in operation. The production from these mines currently stood at 116 mt in 2022-23, Mr Meena stated. The offering of coal blocks for commercial coal mining was started in 2020.

“The target in the current financial year (23-24) is to produce 162 mt from captive and commercial coal mines since at least seven new mines are scheduled to go into operation during the year,” the coal secretary said.

The Congress organised by Mining, Geological & Metallurgical Institute (MGMI) of India will provide a forum for promotion and support of Techno-Scientific cooperation towards National and International progress in the areas for mineral production, in addition to the development of new opportunities of sustainable business that will benefit both Asian and World communities. Over 600 delegates from India and abroad including Asia and other continents are expected to visit the Congress and the Exhibition.

According to the coal secretary, once a new coal block is allotted or auctioned by the government, it takes close to 50/52 months to begin production from such a new coal block.

There are however, some logistics constraints in loading and transportation of coal, Meena pointed out and as a result of which the country will have to continue to use imported coal.  This will mainly be by coastal power plants that are designed to burn imported coal, he added.

Government policies are designed to raise domestic production and progressively bring down imports for usage by power plants, though the Union Ministry of Power had recently directed domestic coal based hinterland power plants to blend 6% imports in their total usage between October 2023 and March 2024 to ensure sufficient electricity generation in the country.

The Ministry of Power had earlier in September directed the plants to blend 4% imports until March 2024. To a question, he pointed out that Coal India (CIL) is producing as per its target and is expected to end up with production of around 780 mt in 2023-24.

The share of imported coal in India’s entire basket of coal slipped to 21% in 2022-23, from a high of 26% in 2019-20 and there has been around a 10% reduction in usage of imported coal in the first six months of 2023-24, the coal secretary said.

In this biennial Congress, MGMI’s showpiece event, more than 70 Technical Papers will be discussed including eight Keynote Addresses in as many as ten sessions. The theme of this Congress is kept as “Roadmap for Best Mining Practices vis-à-vis Global Transformation”.

The IME organised jointly by MGMI & TAFCON, with about 400 stalls from around the world, including from leading Indian industries, is likely to witness more than 20,000 footfalls from India and Overseas countries. The partner country and focus country this year are Germany and Australia respectively. The mineral-rich States participating in the exhibition are Gujarat as Partner State, Jharkhand as the Focus State and West Bengal, all being present with large participation.