Power ministry eyeing Australian coal mines

Power ministry eyeing Australian coal mines

New Delhi: The power ministry is exploring the option of getting coal mines on lease in Australia to narrow down shortage of fuel at power plants.

“I requested the Australian ministers recently while attending an energy conference in France that India would be very happy to have (coal) mines on lease in their country," power minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters on the sidelines of a conference here.

Shinde said, “They (Australia) have some companies there for the mining also, on that count I made the suggestion."

The ministry’s Navratna company NTPC is also looking at coal mines abroad for sourcing fuel for its power plants.

“We are looking at coal mines in Indonesia, Australia, Mozambique and South Africa for procuring coal," NTPC chairman and managing director RS Sharma said.

NTPC is importing 12.5 million tonnes of coal to meet its requirement of around 150 million tonnes of dry fuel during this fiscal. This gap is expected to widen further as NTPC is aiming to become 50,000 MW company by 2012.

Asked whether the 11th Plan (2007-12) target of adding 78,577 MW power generation capacity would be met, Shinde replied, “There was a problem of supply of fuel, gas and power equipment. It (capacity addition) may go down, but we will certainly go beyond 60,000 MW."