Coal India to double exploration capacity in a year

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New Delhi, Oct 6 (UNI) Coal India Ltd (CIL) will double its exploration capacity in a year's time from the current two lakh metres per day.

''Exploration is less beyond 300 metres depth where there is an abundance of coal. So we are going to intensify exploration and will double it in a year's time,'' company's Chairman and Managing Director Partha S Bhattacharyya told reporters on the sidelines of an energy summit.

For this purpose the company will be outsourcing technical help from foreign companies, he added.

''The current consumption of coal in the country is at 470 million tonnes (MT) which will go up to two billion tonnes by 2031-32,'' he said, adding, that production of coal will reach two billion tonnes from the present 430 MT which will cater for next 25 years.

Outlining the main challenges before the sector, Mr Bhattacharyya said 156 billion tonnes of coal is present in the 0-300 metre depth, but mining is prohibited is many of these areas.

According to estimates, about 70 billion tonnes of coal are extractable in the 0-300 metre range, out of which 30 billion tonnes will get mined, he said, adding that 40 billion tonnes of coal are still left.

''About 85 per cent of local production is through open cast mines and lesser though underground mines. If the thrust continues, we will be left with coal for 20 years,'' he added.

''Below 300 metres, presently 66 billion tonnes coal exists and there is a huge possibility of exploration there. We have to intensify exploration in those areas.'' Regarding the major constraints hindering the sector, Mr Bhattacharyya said delays in procurement of equipment of big sizes is a cause of concern for which work is on an integrity pact to fasten the process.

Another cause of worry is lack of quality coal for which washeries will be set on built-own-operate basis, tenders for which has already been floated, he said.

''Nearly 70 per cent benefication of coal will be done in next five years,'' he added.

''We are facing problems in acquiring land, rehabilitation and resettlement and delays in getting forest clearances,'' Mr Bhattacharyya added.

''CIL at present has 1,28,000 hectare under its possession and another 42,000 hectare is required to scale up production to 520 million tonnes from the current level of 360 million tonnes at the end of the 11th plan,'' he said.

UNI

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