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Coal India plans to incentivise underground mining and consider reopening six such closed mines as contribution from underground mines to total coal production has fallen to just 8%.
According to Coal India officials, persistently declining coal production from underground mines has become a serious concern for the world's largest coal producer. "Breaking this trend by enhancing production and productivity of underground mines is the biggest challenge before Coal India," a senior Coal India official said. "Over the past few years, there is a growing consensus over the need for increasing coal production from underground coal mines," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Contribution of underground mines in other major coal producing countries of China, USA and Australia are 95%, 30% and 25%, respectively. "Keeping in view the trends of coal production from underground mines in Coal India, numerous challenges in underground coal mining and rapidly increasing demand for coal, there is urgent need for enhancing coal production from underground mines, its modernisation and to make underground coal mining competitive in the rapidly changing economic scenarios," the Coal India official said.
As a prelude to enhancing production from underground mines, Coal India will assess various factors that are coming in the way of enhancing coal production from underground mines of different coal companies in Coal India. It will also study the available coal reserves suitable for underground mining in each coal subsidiary of the company. It will further assess the level of mechanisation of the underground mines and the trend in production from these mines.
The company also intends to assess the scope of mechanisation and deploy continuous miner with matching roof supporting mechanism. It plans to look into the possibilities of amalgamation of smaller units and strengthening the infrastructure for mechanisation of amalgamated units.
An official from the company said that Coal India will assess the preparedness of different coal companies in terms of shelf of projects for implementation. It will also look into the requirement of different infrastructure support for taking up greenfield and brownfield projects. Gap between availability and the requirement of skilled man power for underground mines over the next 10 years and training needs of technical manpower in underground mechanisation will also have to be assessed to boost underground production, the official said.
Coal India will also look into ways of addressing contract management issues for importing equipment for underground mines and examine issues involved in approvals by safety regulators for imported underground machinery. Possible cooperation with various technology providers from different countries for taking up large scale underground mechanisation will also be looked into, the official said.
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