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NEW DELHI : State-run miner Coal India Ltd plans to electrify thousands of fuel-guzzling vehicles used at its sites and those at its subsidiaries to reduce carbon emissions, two officials aware of the plans said. The transition plan will include setting up charging infrastructure at the sites.

Although not all heavy vehicles will be electrified, Coal India is working on transitioning a significant number of vehicles, one of the two officials cited above said on the condition of anonymity.

“In all our (Coal India)subsidiaries, hundreds of vehicles and thousands of heavy earth moving machinery are required that guzzle a lot of fuel. Vehicles moving from the mine to the railway stations around 6 km apart may not be converted to EVs as they are very heavy machinery and will not run on electric batteries, but payloaders which lift coal can be connected to the charging infrastructure...that is what we are doing as it has great potential."

The move to transition heavy machinery and vehicles is part of the company’s plan to reduce its carbon footprint. It has also diversified its business by foraying into solar and coal gasification, and is also looking at aluminium production. The coal ministry’s report for 2021-22 on task completion showed that the pre-feasibility study on EV and non-fuel minerals have already been prepared.

Heavy machinery and vehicles used across mining, construction and agriculture sectors are being electrified globally, but is yet to pick up in India, as the government and the industry is currently focussing on passenger and commercial EVs.

According to experts, electric heavy earth moving machinery will help bring down long-term costs for mining and raise energy efficiency.

Coal India is already exploring the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) instead of diesel for heavy earth moving machinery. Its subsidiary Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd is set to run a pilot at the Bharatpur opencast mine using LNG. GAIL will assist and execute the pilot project.

GAIL has already signed a memorandum of understanding and issued a tender for the retrofitting equipment. The pilot is to be completed by September 2022. Similarly, Northern Coalfields Ltd is in discussions with Indian Oil Corp. Ltd for a similar project. Coal India also plans to appoint a consultant to study global benchmarking standards and efficiency parameters of heavy earth moving machinery used at its mines, which will submit its report on the improvement and applicability.

Queries to Coal India and the coal ministry remained unanswered till press time.

In another development, Coal India on Monday reported a 65% rise in its capital expenditure (capex) in the first quarter of FY23 to 3,034 crore. It was the ninth consecutive month of capex growth, the company said. “CIL’s capex jumped to 3,034 crore in April-June compared to 1,841 crore in the year ago resulting in a sizeable 1,193 crore volume growth," it said in a statement.

A senior CIL official said the capex increase came on the back of strong spending in acquiring land and strengthening transport infrastructure in the coalfields under first mile connectivity projects. “These two vital areas help CIL in expanding its mining operations for accelerated production and pairing it with seamless transportation of coal," he said.

rituraj.baruah@livemint.com

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