Kolkata: Coal India Ltd has budgeted for a capital expenditure of Rs9,500 crore in 2018-19 and is looking to pare operating costs even as the state-owned miner braces for competition from the private sector.

In 2017-18, Coal India spent Rs8,600 crore—Rs100 crore more than what it had planned—to expand mining, chairman and managing director Gopal Singh said in Kolkata on Friday.

Even in the face of private mining, Coal India will remain the leader, Singh said. The government recently eased norms to allow private companies to start commercial coal mining.

But to remain competitive, Coal India is looking to reduce costs. In the December quarter, it pared operating costs by Rs52 per tonne, which resulted in its pre-tax profit going up by 10.9% year-on-year to Rs4,610.21 crore, Singh said.

The cost of coal produced by Coal India is at least 42% lower than imported coal even after the price hike in January, according to the chairman. Certain grades are cheaper by as much as 64%, he added.

In the 11 months to 1 March 2018, Coal India produced 495.09 million tonnes (mt) of coal. The management expects to close the current fiscal with a total output of 568 mt. The target for the year was 600 mt.

Coal India, at present, has a pithead inventory of 54 mt compared to 68 mt at the beginning of 2017-18. It had contracted to 29 mt at the end of November, but the inventory has swelled again indicating that the company has produced more than it has managed to sell.

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