Metals & Mining News

ECL aims at more than double underground coal production of 20 mt by 2028

Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL), a subsidiary of Coal India, is focusing on expanding its underground mining operations to achieve more than double production from such activity at 20 million tonne by 2028, a senior official said on Sunday. This has been planned to support Coal India’s target to ramp up underground coal production from all mining subsidiaries to 100 million tonne by 2030 from a level of 25-26 million tonne now, he said.

ECL underground coal commands a premium of three to four times over average notified prices, and now, it accounts for 25 per cent of its total production, while the rest is from open cast operation, ECL Director (Technical), Niladri Roy said.

The miner aims at achieving the goal through a combination of strategies, like greater automation, engaging mine developers and operators (MDOs), and offering abandoned blocks to the private sector for residual coal mining in a revenue-sharing model, he said.
“We are currently producing nine million tonne from around 55 mines and are targeting to enhance the output to 20 million tonne by 2028. We have already implemented a strategy that combines modernisation and deployment of the latest equipment in UG mines and leveraging public-private partnership,” Roy told PTI.

Two underground mines, Parasea-Belbaid Colliery and Tilaboni, have already been awarded to private miners as MDOs.

“The output from each of the two projects will go up to two million tonne per annum from a mere 0.2-0.3 million tonne produced from each of these assets now,” Roy said.

While in the case of abandoned mines, letters of assurance have been awarded to private players four such blocks and three more are in the pipeline, he stated. ECL will receive a revenue share between 5 per cent and 32 per cent from coal produced from these mines depending on the asset quality, the official said.

Speaking about the automation, Roy said ECL has “engaged nine continuous miners, which will be increased to 20 by 2027-28”.

The Coal India subsidiary currently operates one longwall set miner in its existing operation.

“We will deploy two-three more highwall miners in the years to come. Currently, we have one such high-end mining machine,” Roy said.

Meanwhile, the company has set a production target of 51 million tonne in 2023-24 as compared to 35 million tonne achieved in the previous year.

ECL has earmarked a capital expenditure of Rs 1,250 crore for the current fiscal to support production from both open-cast and underground mining.

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