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Coal output to be ramped up shortly, says power minister Piyush Goyal

Coal minister Piyush Goyal said the ministries of coal, mines and environment are working on the matter and production will be ramped up quickly. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/MintPremium
Coal minister Piyush Goyal said the ministries of coal, mines and environment are working on the matter and production will be ramped up quickly. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

A surplus coal output in the wake of muted demand from power plants had last year forced Coal India to slow down production, leading to an unexpected shortage after demand picked up from power stations

New Delhi: Coal minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday coal output will be ramped up over the coming weeks as efforts are on across ministries to help raise production after an unexpected surge in coal demand from power plants.

Goyal said the ministries of coal, mines and environment are working on the matter and production will be ramped up quickly. A surplus coal output in the wake of muted demand from power plants had last year forced the state monopoly, Coal India Ltd, to slow down production, leading to an unexpected shortage after demand picked up from power stations.

While electricity generation grew 5.1% in the April-December period over the same time a year ago, mining output grew at a muted pace of 1.2% in the same period. In the April-January period, Coal India Ltd produced 441 million tonnes of the fuel, 94% of its production target for the period. It was an output growth of 1.6% over the same period a year ago. Coal offtake in the first ten months of this fiscal remained robust. The state producer shipped 475 million tonnes of the fuel in the period, meeting 97% of its target.

Goyal, who was speaking at a review of the performance of NLC India Ltd, formerly Neyveli Lignite Corporation Ltd, said the company seeks to double its mining capacity by 2025. The company, which now produces 31 million tonnes a year, has seen its output surging three-fold in the last three years. NLC, which also produces power, is expected to see its generation capacity more than double from 2.7 gigawatts (GW) in 2014 to 5.7GW by March 2018.

Goyal said that the mining company, which has diversified into clean energy generation, is expected to have 300 megawatts (MW) by March 2018 and is expected to sign a power purchase deal with the Railways for 1,000MW.

Goyal, who is also the minister for railways, said that the Railway Board is expected to come out with a request for proposal (RFP) to use its vacant land for setting up a 3,000MW clean energy capacity, in which NLC will also participate. “The Railway Board will shortly come out with an RFP. We will ask all companies to compete. NLC will also compete. It will benefit both NLC and the Railways," said Goyal. It will be a two-stage bidding of 1,500 MW each.

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