Home / Industry / Energy /  NTPC revives plan to enter commercial coal mining biz

NEW DELHI : State-run NTPC has renewed plans to start commercial coal mining through its unit, NTPC Mining Ltd, and fresh approvals have been sought, said two officials with knowledge of the matter.

Time is opportune for NTPC to step up its play in the prime power sector fuel. In the past too it had tried to foray into commercial coal mining, but it did not get the required approvals, they said seeking anonymity.

Without the Centre’s approval, NTPC Mining cannot bid for commercial coal mines and that defeats the very purpose of having a dedicated mining operation. Though the company is planning to transfer its captive mines to the proposed unit, its operations would suffer without participating in commercial mining, they added.

Among public sector undertakings (PSUs), Coal India Ltd, Singareni Collieries Co. Ltd. and NMDC have been permitted to mine coal commercially.

“Coal is critical for power plants as largely energy generation in India is coal based. We already have presence in coal mining through the captive mines given to us. A larger play on coal mining is possible if the operation is given more focus through a dedicated subsidiary," said one of the two officials cited above.

“NTPC has never participated in auctions conducted by the ministry of coal for any block for commercial mining," the second person said

Queries to NTPC, and the ministries of power and coal remained unanswered till press time.

In August 2019, the energy major incorporated NTPC Mining for handling its mining business. The foray into coal mining was made to strengthen its core business and to ensure fuel security. So far in the current financial year, the company has produced 7.36 million tonnes of coal from its captive mines, up 62% from the corresponding period of last year.Coal dispatches from NTPC’s captive mines in FY23 were at 7.52 million tonnes as against 5.47 million tonnes in the year ago, up 37%, it said on 2 September.

According to the NTPC management, it has taken several steps to increase coal production. The engagement of high-capacity dumpers as well as an increase in the existing fleet size of excavators has allowed operational mines to increase production, it added.

The company’s wesbite showed that it has started coal production from three coal blocks—Pakri Barwadih in Jharkhand, Dulanga in Odisha and Talaipalli in Chhattisgarh. In FY21-22, NTPC produced 14.02 million tonnes of coal from the three operating mines. Mining operations in the Chatti Bariatu mine started in April 2021. Other mines are at the development stage and are expected to start production soon.

NTPC is developing six coal blocks allocated directly to it and one coal block of Patratu Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd, a joint venture of NTPC with government of Jharkhand, for captive consumption of coal. Peak annual production capacity of the coal blocks is estimated to be 71 MMT to fuel approximately 15 GW of NTPC’s requirements.

The sector comprises public sector mining behemoths Coal India, its subsidiaries, Neyveli Lignite Corp. India Ltd and Singareni Collieries Co. and private players such as Adani, JSW and Vedanta.

Emphasis on commercial mining of coal follows two crisis situations, in September-October 2021 and April-May 2022. With the arrival of summers and high cost of imported coal, India faced a shortage at power plants with average coal stocks of just seven days. However, with the government mandating central and state gencos to import coal for blending, and growth in production of domestic coal, the situation has eased.

subhash.narayan@livemint.com

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