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India’s coal production went up to 74.78 million tonnes (mt) in December as compared to the same period in 2019, union coal ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. 

This comes in the backdrop of fuel stocks at coal fuelled power projects building up after depleting to 7.23 mt on 8 October. India’s power plants burn around 1.85-1.87 mt of coal every day to generate electricity. 

"India’s total coal production increased by 6.74 % to 74.78 Million Ton (MT) during December, 2021 as compared to the same period in 2019. Out of the total production during December last year, Coal India Ltd (CIL) achieved a growth of 3.79% by producing 60.220 MT.  Captive blocks registered a growth of 40.98% by producing 8.91 MT of coal during the period," coal ministry said in a statement.

The depleted fuel stocks at power plants have led to concerns about a possible electricity shortage. This assumes significance given that coal fuelled power projects totalling 202.22 gigawatt (GW) remain the mainstay of India’s power generation and account for more than half of India’s power generation capacity.

"At the same time, Singareni Collieries Ltd (SCCL) registered a negative growth of 1.12% by producing 5.65 MT of Coal during December. Coal production of financial year 2022 has been compared with FY 20 as FY 21 has been considered abnormal year due to restriction imposed on commercial activities in the wake of Covid-19," the statement said.

This comes at a time when the global window for future coal mining is getting shorter with a shift happening towards meeting environment, sustainability and governance (ESG) compliance. 

 “Coal dispatch increased by 14.62 % to 75.05 MT from 65.48 MT during Dec 2021 as compared to Dec 2019. Out of the total production during this period, Coal India Ltd (CIL) achieved a growth of 12.70% by dispatching 60.67 MT of Coal, Singareni Collieries Ltd (SCCL) achieved a growth of 2.01% by dispatching 5.70 MT of Coal and captive blocks registered a growth of 43.23% by dispatching 8.68 MT," the statement added.

The country’ coal requirement is expected to go up to 1,123 mt by 2023 from the present level of 700 mt. India has the world’s fourth largest reserves and is the second-largest producer of coal. With global shift to green energy to address growing environmental concerns, the Indian government is trying to harness coal reserves within the next three decades.

 “The Power utilities dispatch has grown by 20.06 % to 63.32 MT in the month of Dec 2021 as compared to 52.74 MT in Dec 2019. There is fall in import price of coal since the end of Oct 2021, however, import prices are still at high level discouraging import. Further, coal-based power demand has increased by 12.7% up to November 2021 against the same time 2020," the statement said.

While CIL’s annual production target is 660 mt for the current financial year, the coal off take is expected to be 740 mt.

"Coal based power generation has registered a growth of 11.84 % in the month of Dec 2021. The overall power generation in Dec 2021 has been 8.32% higher than the power generated in Dec 2019. Coal based power generation in the month of Dec 2021 has been 85579 MU in comparison to 75620 MU the previous month and registered a growth of 13.17%. Total power generation has also increased in Dec 2021 to 113094 MU from 103177 MU in November," the statement added.

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