Coal India Exploring Green Mining Options To Minimise Adverse Environmental Impact

Coal India Limited (CIL) is taking a close look on green mining options in a bid to minimise adverse environmental impact by leveraging a slew of eco-friendly technologies in its UG (Underground) and OC (Open Cast or Open-Cut) mines.

With land turning out to be a major pain point for expansion of coal mining operations, these technologies bypass land acquisition and avoid its degradation.

The locked up coal assets left out earlier due to techno-commercial and safety concerns can now be unearthed through these technologies, the Coal India said in a statement on Friday (17 June).

“CIL is exploring ramping up its UG production by four-fold to 100 million tonnes (MTs) by FY 2030 from 25.6 MTs in FY’22,” the company said.

UG output is environmentally clean, minimally invasive on land degradation, society friendly. Around 70 per cent of the country’s coal reserves are conducive for UG mining, it added.

The aim, according to the company, is to make UG production sizably supplement the OC output. At current rate, mineable coal reserves at existing OC will slowly start lowering.

Among mass production technologies, CIL will introduce 50 continuous miners by FY25 with peak production potential of 25 MT per year.

21 such machines are already deployed in ECL, CCL and SECL producing 9 MT per year.

Two powered support long wall (PSLW) machines operating in ECL and BCCL produced 1.58 MT in FY22 against 1.13 MT in FY21 posting 40 per cent growth.

Two more PSLWs with a total capacity of 4.5 MT per year are soon to be deployed in BCCL.

Further, in a first, CIL is aiming to mine coal through punch entry in those OC mines which have reached their ultimate pit level. This could be done through a mix of technologies.

CIL plans to identify and implement 5 such mines through punch entry in phased manner till FY24. So that mineable coal assets can be extracted with economic viability, the company said.

The company is also planning to deploy 10 High Wall machines in its OC mines during the ongoing fiscal with projected production potential of 5 MTs/Year.

With one such project already operational in SECL, three more will soon be functional in ECL. One Highwall machine entails a capex of Rs 200 crore.

Since nationalization in 1975, UG output contracted by 57.7 per cent till FY22 while OC production expanded by 8.5 times, the company said.

Loss incurring production, longer gestation period, lack of skilled labour, unavailability of indigenous equipment, and departmental production cost being high tilted the scales against UG mines.

However, with multiple options available now UG production could become viable. Important among them are, mass production technologies, availability of indigenous manufacturing units and well trained skilled labour.

Outsourcing to contractors would scale down the cost of production. Gestation period is also considerably lower now. With these advantages CIL plans to steadily scale up the locked up UG coal assets.