Indian Coal Companies Move Towards Sustainable Mining

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by KnowESG
KnowESG_Indian coal industry
Image courtesy of Bloomberg

According to Pralhad Joshi, the coal and mines minister of India, state-owned coal companies are implementing a variety of strategies to restore abandoned mines and promote sustainable practices.

These initiatives encompass a multitude of actions, such as the planting of saplings and the establishment of eco-parks.

Furthermore, the ministry is actively pursuing the adoption of modern technologies like coal gasification, along with the implementation of renewable energy projects and the preservation of water bodies. Minister Joshi shared these details during an interview with PTI, emphasising the comprehensive approach being taken to address environmental concerns in the coal sector.

"With the visionary goal set by our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070, our public sector undertakings (PSUs) are actively undertaking numerous endeavours to ensure sustainable coal mining practices," expressed Pralhad Joshi, the Minister of Coal and Mines.

He emphasised their dedication to addressing the climate change issue and the sizeable investments that these PSUs are making to support this goal, totalling thousands of crores.

Coal India Ltd. (CIL), along with its eight subsidiary companies and NLC India Ltd., operate under the administrative control of the coal ministry, playing a crucial role in these sustainable efforts. As the world celebrates World Environment Day on June 5, their dedication towards achieving the Prime Minister's vision is commendable.

In addition to his role as the Minister of Coal and Mines, Pralhad Joshi, who also serves as the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, shared significant achievements in environmental conservation. He highlighted that between 2014–15 and 2022–23, an impressive green cover has been extended to encompass an area of 16,262 hectares, with approximately 37.03 million saplings being planted.

Looking ahead, public sector units have devised a comprehensive plan to further expand the green cover in the ongoing fiscal year of 2023–24. This plan entails the development of a green cover area spanning 2,500 hectares, to plant an additional 50 lakh saplings. These concerted efforts will contribute to the overall count of trees, which exceeds 42 million. The commitment of the public sector to nurturing the environment is truly commendable.

Additionally, Minister Joshi highlighted the establishment of approximately 30 eco-parks on barren lands near mineral-less mines throughout the country. Furthermore, he disclosed plans for an additional 30 eco-parks to be developed in coal-bearing states such as West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Odisha within the next 3–4 years. The estimated cost of these initiatives is approximately Rs 200 crore.

Regarding coal gasification, Minister Joshi explained that the government had allocated Rs 6,000 crore last year to promote the adoption of this technology, which results in comparatively lower emissions.

The implementation of coal gasification involves making coal available for gasification projects and identifying suitable technologies, including carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS). To ensure the availability of coal for these projects, the coal ministry has directed CIL and Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) to create a dedicated auction window for long-term coal linkages specific to coal gasification projects.

In addition to using mine water for their own purposes, state-owned coal companies are supplying over 3,700 lakh kiloliters (LKL) of treated mine water for community use, benefiting more than 17.7 lakh people across 981 villages in nine states annually. This water is also used for irrigation purposes.

To promote renewable energy, coal companies are actively implementing both rooftop and ground-mounted solar projects, particularly in reclaimed mining areas. As of March 31, 2023, public sector coal and lignite units have installed solar capacity of approximately 1,605 MW and windmills of 51 MW. The target is to install 5,560 MW of renewable capacity by FY26.

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Source: Press Trust of India

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