Speaking to Reuters, Vinayak Jamwal, a spokesperson for Coal India’s Mahanadi Coalfields said that the Siarmal mine in Jharsuguda district of Odisha will see a rise in output, and will take about five to seven years to reach a capacity of 50 million tonnes.
Jamwal added that initial production, which would begin during the fourth quarter of the year, will be annualised at the rate of two tonnes to five million tonnes.
Coal India's record production might act as a source of hope during efforts to navigate India's worst power crisis in more than six years, as a heatwave has driven up demand for power and forced the government to reverse a policy on cutting coal imports.
However, plans of reopening closed mines in an attempt to overcome the coal crisis begs the question of how this drive for coal will affect the country’s emission targets, as India has repeated its plan to install 450 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2030.
Out of India’s total electricity generation capacity of about 401 GW, renewable power only accounts for 111.4 GW.
By the end of the financial year in March 2023, Coal India aims to open two more mines with combined annual capacities of almost 7 million tonnes, officials told Reuters and added that India is unlikely to achieve its aim of opening seven new mines by the end of the financial year.
Rising Coal Production
To meet the rising power demand, coal production increased to 34 million tonnes (MT) in the first half of May, the government said on Tuesday, adding that total coal production increased to 33.94 MT, achieving a growth of 36.23 percent over the production of 24.91 MT during the same period last year, reported IANS.
The total dispatch of coal has been at 37.18 MT, recording an increase of 15.87 percent as compared to the corresponding period of last year.
The total coal dispatch including non-CIL coal producing units has been to the tune of 71.77 MT for the entire month of April, registering a growth of 9.39 per cent on a year-on-year basis.
"The Ministry of Coal is continuing all efforts to further enhance coal production and dispatch to meet the increasing power demand in the country," the ministry said.
The government said that Coal India Limited (CIL) has played an important role in augmenting production and recorded its highest monthly coal production of 53.47 MT in the month of April, registering a growth of 27.64 per cent on a year-on-year basis.