Coal India may close 53 underground mines

Bid to rationalise small, financially-unviable or unsafe mines.

Coal India Ltd. (CIL) may close down 53 underground mines in 2018-19 even as it looks for solutions to these mines which it had inherited as a legacy of the pre-nationalisation days, said Anil Kumar Jha, Chairman, CIL. “About 43 underground mines were closed last year on grounds of safety and viability,” he said. “We have inherited many underground mines at the time of nationalisation. That time, there were more than 700 mines with a seven lakh manpower. Now, with each passing day, we are trying to rationalise mines which are small, financially unviable or unsafe. We are trying to amalgamate some and turn some others into open-cast,” he said. There would be no retrenchment due to the mine closures as the staff would be redeployed, he added.

He was talking to the media after CIL’s 44th annual general meeting. He said the Indian School of Mines had been given a project to find out a solution to the management of the underground mines. The report is expected in six months.

11 new blocks

Earlier, addressing the shareholders, he said that 11 new blocks allotted to three of its subsidiaries, ECL, BCCL and WCL, would help raise over 100 million tonnes of coal in four years or so. The CIL board had also approved four coal-mining projects with an ultimate capacity of 24.6 million tonnes, entailing an investment of ₹4,155.5 crore. Its future growth strategy also included thrust on establishing railway links through collaboration with the State governments and the Railways.

CIL , which produced 580.3 million tonnes in 2017-18, is chasing a target of 652 million tonnes, Director-Marketing S. N. Prasad told the media, adding that of this, about 525 million tonnes will go to the power sector. He said that increasing production was imperative in order to bring down coal imports which now hovered about 200 million tonnes.