Kolkata:Coal India Ltd would invest at least $20-25 billion in the next five years to ramp up production and strive to make India self-sufficient in thermal coal in the next two and half years, energy minister Piyush Goyal said.
The company will develop 75-100 new mines, upgrade technology and infuse equity in new joint ventures to reach the announced target of producing 1 billion tonnes of coal by 2019-20, Goyal said at an event of Coal India in Kolkata on Friday.
“We believe India won’t need to import thermal coal after around two years,” he said while speaking to the media on the sidelines of the event.
Goyal said the country’s demand for electricity was likely to double in the next five years to 2 trillion units and additional capacity would need to be created to cater to new industries and for the 280 million Indians who still don’t have access to electricity.
The national miner, which accounts for around 80% of India’s coal demand, produced 494 million tonnes in 2014-15, compared with its target of 507 million tonnes.
It aims to produce 550 million tonnes in the year to next March.
Coal India is on the right trajectory to achieve its target, Goyal said. The miner’s production increased by 11.1% year-on-year in the first 45 days of the current fiscal year and was likely to progressively grow in the rest of the year, he said.
Coal India’s production increased by 32 million tonnes in the year ended 31 March, compared with total incremental production of 31 million tonnes in the previous five years, he added.
“The government wishes to facilitate in attaining the growth target in an accountable and time-bound fashion,” he said.
Coal India had drawn up a plan to ramp up production in existing mines and replace exhausted mines with new ones, he added.
The government would consider at “an appropriate time” the modalities to further divest 5% stake in the state-owned miner, Goyal said.
The government is evaluating prospects of launching the next phase of auctioning coal mines by studying the status of land and environment clearances of the proposed fields, he said.
The state and central governments, and employee unions need to work in tandem to cater to India’s growing demand for coal, he said.
“We will extend whatever help needed to support the Centre’s investment projects such as in renewable energy and coal,” said West Bengal’s chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who also attended the event.
Shares of Coal India closed 0.91% lower at `366.15 in Mumbai trading on Friday, while the benchmark Sensex rose 0.43% to close at 27,324 points.
Source: Mint; 15 May 2015