Home / News / India /  Coal India to surpass 700 million tonnes production target by March 2023: CEO Pramod Agrawal

Coal India is most likely to surpassing the ambitious 700 million tonne production target by March 2023, said chairman Pramod Agrawal on 1 January, 2023. He added that a 'price revision is essential' for the dry fuel to get the company compensated adequately.

Once the company meets the annual production target with over 12 per cent growth for the first time set by the government, it will be another feather in coal India's cap. In 2021-22, the production was 622.6 million tonne.

To meet India's growing energy demand, the Kolkata-headquartered company is extracting more coal, however, at the same time, it was 'taking several measures to reduce emissions to support the country's net zero target by 2070'.

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“The 700 million tonne aim itself is challenging and ambitious. So far we are ahead of the progressive target. In December, we achieved 101 per cent of the year-on-date target. Our coal companies are pushing hard. The goal is to stay ahead and breach the 700 million tonne target of which we feel confident," Agrawal said in an interview with PTI.

Agrawal added that the challenge in the fourth quarter would be to grow over a high base of 209 million tonne in the January-March period of the last fiscal.

"We would not relent on the tempo of the production. One bright spot for us is the robust growth of 19 per cent in overburden removal which will help us in scaling up production in the ensuing months," he said.

Till Deccember 2022, Coal India achieved 16 per cent growth in production to nearly 479 million tonne and off-take of 508 million tonne.

In the current fiscal, the coal behemoth was internally working on a realistic target of 670-680 million tonne of production as against 622 million tonne of output last year, but "all-out effort" by the miner made it confident to achieve the feat.

On capital expenditure, Agrawal stated that such expense has "risen by 33 per cent in the first half of this financial year to 7,027 crore" as compared to the similar period of FY’22 with emphasis on coal evacuation infrastructure, and expected that the capex (capital expenditure) would likely to touch 16,500 crore by the end of FY23.

“The capex has more than doubled in a mere two-year period to 15,401 crore in FY’22 from a level of 6,270 crore in FY’20. It is essential that concurrent with production, capex is also scaled up to sustain long-term growth momentum. It increases primarily on land acquisition, introduction of modernised fleet and mechanised evacuation infrastructure," he said.

In H1 FY2022-23, much of the capex was spread on coal evacuation infrastructure, laying rail lines and sidings to move greater quantities of coal in future.

On revising coal prices, Agrawal said, “We have insulated the country’s coal consuming segments by capping our coal prices for about five years helping contain the inflation to an extent as any increase in coal prices has a ripple effect. Our intent is to ensure availability of affordable electricity since 80 per cent of our supplies are to thermal power plants."

“But as a commercial corporate entity, we need to be compensated adequately and a price revision is essential," he pointed out.

The miner has been absorbing the increased input costs, especially, on account of explosives and diesel.

Replying to a question on an impending wage agreement, the Coal India chief said, “Wage talks are going on and we hope to conclude the pact at the earliest on terms agreeable to both parties. To meet the wage cost, we have already started budget provisioning on a quarterly basis beginning July 2021, the effective month of the new wages."

With PTI inputs.

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