BHUBANESWAR/NEW DELHI: According to officials, the state-run Coal India will launch this year what is likely to be one of the country’s largest coal mines, as India battles to keep up with growing electricity demand.
According to Vinayak Jamwal, spokesman for Coal India unit Mahanadi Coalfields (MCL), output from the new Siarmal mine in eastern Odisha state would steadily increase, reaching capacity of 50 million tonnes in around five to seven years.
Coal India’s record output has been a bright spot in efforts to end the country’s greatest power crisis in more than six years, as a heatwave has increased demand for electricity and pushed the government to rethink a policy of reducing coal imports.
India, which also aims to reopen closed mines to deal with the issue, has not indicated how the push for additional coal will help the country meet its emissions objectives, but it has stated that it will install 450 gigatonnes (GW) of renewable energy by 2030.
India now has 401 GW of total electricity producing capacity, 111.4 GW of which is renewable power.
Jamwal stated that infrastructure for Siarmal, an open cast mine situated in a partially forested environment, was being erected.
In a single year, no Indian mine has produced more than 50 million tonnes of coal. This year, the Gevra coal mine, India’s largest, intends to produce 52 million tonnes.
Coal India expects to open two more mines with a combined annual capacity of 7 million tonnes in the fiscal year ending March 2023, according to authorities, adding that plans to open seven new mines this fiscal year are unlikely to be realised.
At a time when power use is increasing at the quickest rate in nearly four decades, the state-owned railway has struggled to transport enough coal to utilities, leaving them with the lowest pre-summer inventory levels in at least nine years.
Coal India, which accounts for 80% of India’s domestic output, intends to generate 700 million tonnes of coal in 2022 and 1 billion tonnes by 2025.
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