State-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL) on Thursday said it plans to restore production from its discontinued underground mines and has identified 12 such blocks with provisional mineable reserves of around 1,060 million tonnes. The move is seen as part of efforts by the PSU coal major to meet its overall production target of one billion tonnes in the next four years.
"Plans are on the anvil by Coal India to retrieve production from its discontinued underground mines. The company has so far identified 12 such mines," the PSU said in a statement.
Of the said blocks, eight belong to Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) and the remaining four fall under Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL), spread over the states of West Bengal and Jharkhand.
ECL and BCCL are Coal India subsidiaries.
"The project is on the drawing board but CIL aims to start the process soon to bring these mines back to active production. This is in effort to increase production through indigenous sources," the company said.
CIL is keen to fast track the issue once Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI), its in-house mine consultancy arm that has been entrusted to prepare a data dossier, submits its report on the feasibility.
These mines were discontinued not because of exhaustion of reserves but on several considerations like difficult geo-mining conditions, economic unviability and non-availability of suitable methods to extract deep-seated reserves at the time, the statement said.
These mines combined have substantial reserves.
While the eight mines of ECL have projected estimated reserve of around 596 million tonnes (MT), the four mines belonging to BCCL add up to 464 MT.
Coal of underground mines is generally of high quality and the ECL mines have coal of varying grades between G3 and G7 with one mine having coking coal which is used in steel making.
All four mines of BCCL are of coking coal reserves which are scarce in the country.
Ranchi-based CMPDI will prepare the study report on sufficiency of extractable reserves in consultation with the concerned subsidiary coal companies to prepare a detailed list for revisiting the discontinued mines for production.
Subsequently, coal companies will float tenders as per their requirement to engage suitable mine developer and operators and others having requisite technical knowhow to pursue the operations on their behalf, the company said.
Different mines were discontinued in different years in the past, some dating back to more than 20 years.
"With the advancement of technologies in the coal mining sector, it is possible to extract the locked-in coal reserves of these mines and this prompted us to explore the option," CIL said.
Coal India, which accounts for over 80 per cent of domestic coal output, is eyeing one billion tonnes of production by 2023-24.