The Planning Commission urged greater participation of private companies in coal mining projects to increase domestic production of the fuel as demand rises. B.K. Chaturvedi, Member-in-Charge (Energy) said private miners with captive coal fields must become more efficient to improve production, and called for looking at public-private partnerships in coal mining.
He also said Indian Railways should work toward faster completion of railway lines to transport coal mined to users.
Chaturvedi was speaking at a coal summit organised by Kolkata-based industry lobby Indian Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
The gap between demand and supply of coal in India was 193 million tonnes in 2012-13, according to the coal ministry. As a result, the country has become more reliant on imports for the fuel.
The increase in coal imports was associated with the price of coal rising relative to other commercial energy sources between 2006 and 2012, global audit and consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a report released at the event.
Chaturvedi said given that the global coal prices might increase with rising environmental and energy security concerns leading to countries erecting what are called tariff and non-tariff barriers, domestic coal production must rise.
Faster clearances, better exploration and productivity in mining and faster evacuation are needed, he said, pointing to India’s low coal mining productivity compared to other countries.
PwC pegged state-run Coal India Ltd’s productivity at 1,100 tonnes per employee. That compares poorly against China Coal’s 2,800 tonnes per employee and Shenhua Energy’s 12,700 tonnes, and efficiency of American companies such as Consol Energy with 7,300 tonnes and Peabody Energy with 36,700 tonnes, according to the report.
Coal India in a BSE filing on Tuesday said it had missed production and off-take targets for the fiscal first quarter as agreed between it and the ministry.
The state-run miner and its subsidiaries produced 102.8 million tonnes of coal between April and June, against against a target of 106.8 million tonnes. The off-take of mined coal was 95% of the target.