India expects coal mines owned by private companies to produce 350-400 million tonnes of coal by 2030, a senior coal ministry official told an industry conference on Tuesday, potentially reducing the country's dependence on imports.
India, the world's second largest coal consumer behind China, opened up coal mining to the private sector companies, such as Adani Enterprises and Vedanta, for the first time in 2020, after years of lobbying by coal users to privatise coal mining.
The increased domestic production could mean lower imports. Indonesia, Australia and South Africa are the country's largest suppliers, and together account for over 90% of coal imports.
India's imports have fallen in the recent months due to high global prices, increasing dependence on Coal India. The state-run miner accounts for over 80% of India's domestic output, and is targeting an output of 670 million tonnes in 2021-22.
M Nagaraju, the additional secretary at the federal coal ministry, said he also expected mines recently allocated to state-owned firms along with those auctioned to the private sector to produce 80-85 million tonnes of coal in 2021-22.
The output from these mines is expected to increase by about 60% to 130-135 million tonnes during the year ended March 2023, Nagaraju told the Indian Coal Markets Conference.
India has since awarded licences to the private sector to operate 42 coal mines with a combined capacity of 86 million tonnes per annum.
But nearly 75% of the 145 mines auctioned in the first three rounds have so far attracted no interest from private sector participants. Only 11 of the 99 mines auctioned in the fourth round have received any interest from bidders. The fourth round auction process is still ongoing.