New Delhi: In a bid to liberalise the coal sector, the government is planning to invite global players for the roll-out of auction plan for commercial mining by December this year, Union Minister Pralhad Joshi said on Thursday.
The maiden move aimed at cutting coal imports is set to end the monopoly of domestic giant Coal India that accounts for over 80 percent of India's dry-fuel output.
"Hundred percent commercial mining is approved. By December or so we are planning to roll it out," Coal, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Joshi told reporters on the sidelines of the National Geoscience Award 2018.
He said that the government will invite global players for this, as 100 percent FDI in coal will lead to more investors in coal mining operations with better technology.
"We are inviting global players. There is already 100 percent FDI. More investors will come... We are hoping to get better technology. Whatever the shortcomings we have in this sector as far as mining coal is concerned that (commercial mining) will be a boost to address it. 100 percent commercial mining is approved," Joshi said.
Coal is the most important and abundant fossil fuel in India. It accounts for 55 percent of the country's energy needs and the government is trying to curb imports.
The country's coal imports increased by 28.7 percent to 24.14 million tonnes in June as against 18.75 million tonnes in the corresponding month of the previous fiscal.
Total imports of thermal coal rose to 56.23 million tonnes during the quarter as compared with the year-ago period.
The country's coal imports swelled by about 13 percent to 235.2 MT during the year ended 31 March, 2019.
Coal India along with the PSU Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) are the only companies that till now were allowed to mine and sell coal.
Coal India is the single largest coal producer in the world, operating through 82 mining areas with seven wholly-owned coal producing subsidiaries and a mine planning and consultancy company, it accounts for about 600 million tonnes (MT) annual production.
As per the Coal Ministry, commercial primary energy consumption in India has grown by about 700 percent in the last four decades but the current per capita commercial primary energy consumption in India is about 350 kgoe/year which is well below that of developed countries.
On issues pertaining to iron ore mining, the Mines Minister Joshi said that the government is working on it and will see to it that there are no shortages of the mineral.
Updated Date: Sep 19, 2019 16:05:46 IST