Stopping illegal mining high priority for govt: Coal secretary, ET EnergyWorld

Kolkata: The coal ministry has reaffirmed its commitment to curbing illegal mining, designating it a top priority for the government, an official said. Coal secretary Amrit Lal Meena said the identification process for permanently closing 69 mines has been finalised and will be executed promptly.

Addressing the 17th Indian Coal Markets Conference here, Meena highlighted that out of the 225 mines that have ceased production, efforts are being made to repurpose them for alternative uses, such as renewable energy projects like solar parks and pump storage ventures.

“Stopping illegal mining is a high priority for the government. We have taken stock and conducted surveys of closed and abandoned mines. We are trying to offer these closed mines to the private sector where resources are available. However, where this is not possible, the mines will be permanently closed,” said Meena.

In terms of logistical support, Meena mentioned that the government will provide assistance to all coal mines, whether public or commercial, through railway connections under PM Gati Shakti.

Approximately 38 projects have been identified for railway evacuation connectivity and are currently at various stages of development, he said.

On coal production, the official said India is poised to achieve one billion tonnes by 2025-26 and surpass 1.5 billion tonnes by 2030, although the coal’s share in the energy demand basket may decline over time.

“Coal India is expected to reach the one-billion-tonne milestone by 2025-26, with a target of 780 million tonnes for the current fiscal year,” he added.

Meena also highlighted the successful production from several commercial mines auctioned, with significant interest from private sector entities in underground mining. Over 100 coal blocks have been put up for auction by the government, he added.

In terms of market access for commercial mines, plans for a coal exchange are in the works, with further stakeholder discussions expected post-elections, he said.

mjunction, a joint venture of SAIL and Tata Steel, expressed interest in partnering with the government for this initiative.

mjunction MD & CEO Vinaya Verma said the company is interested in partnering with the government in this endeavour and is already in the process of constructing an exchange platform, which would be different from the current auction platform.

  • Published On Mar 22, 2024 at 08:46 AM IST

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