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NEW DELHI : The Union coal ministry has received bids for only 20 coal mines out of the 88 blocks offered under the third round of auction for commercial sale of coal. As many as 37 companies have cumulatively placed 53 technical bids for coal mines for sale of coal, the government said on Wednesday. 

Namchik Namphuk coalfields in Arunachal Pradesh received the maximum interest with 12 technical bids being placed by different entities. This was followed by Utkal C coalfields in Odisha with seven bids and Bijahan coalfields in the same state with five bids. 

In terms of companies, three bids were submitted by Hindalco  Industries, Mahanadi Mines and Minerals, Assam Mineral Development Corporation, Coal Pulz Pvt Ltd, and Mahalaxmi Continental. Vedanta, Jindal Power, Dalmia Cement, Amaltas Aviation, Tangedco placed two bids each and JSW, Balco, Jindal Steel and Power, Singareni Collieries one technical bids each. 

The technical bids will now be evaluated by a multi-disciplinary Technical Evaluation Committee and Technically Qualified Bidders would be shortlisted for participation in the electronic auction to be conducted on MSTC portal from January 07, 2022, a government statement said. 

The auction process of 88 coal mines for sale of coal was launched by the Coal ministry on October 12, 2021 with the last date of submission of Technical Bid being December 14, 2021. 

Of the bids received for 20 coal mines, 16 are fully explored mines and 4 are partially explored mines while two of these mines are coking coal mines and the remaining 18 mines are non-coking coal mines. Two or more bids have been received for 10 coal mines.

The lukewarm response to coal mine bidding round is continuing even though demand for fuel has risen in the country with economic recovery locking up pace post pandemic imposed lockdowns and other restrictions. Experts have said that with renewable energy fast getting a traction in the country, and large number companies looking to switch to less polluting fuels as part of their commitment towards climate change goals, companies are desisting from big ticket investment in coal mining. This even though it is estimated that coal will remain the prime source of fuel in the country for next several years.

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