Badal Sanyal

Kolkata, July 8

IN order to ensure speedy turnaround of Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL), the Dhanbad-based ailing subsidiary of Coal India Ltd (CIL), the Union Ministry of Coal has allowed it to develop a virgin coal block through the joint venture route.

The is for the first time that a CIL subsidiary has been allowed to float a joint venture company to undertake such a job.

Confirming this, the BCCL CMD, Mr Partha Bhattacharjee, told Business Line that the Kakulia block under the company's command area has been chosen for development by the proposed joint venture. In all likelihood, the power support long-wall technology would be introduced to develop it as an underground mine having comfortable reserve of both coking and high grade non-coking coal.

In addition to this, BCCL has been allowed to develop an opencast coal mine utilising the reserves of Kalyaneswari block in West Bengal. The block, with a reserve of about 150 million tonnes (mt), will be developed through global outsourcing of all jobs.

CIL is reported to have agreed to provide a loan of about Rs 300 crore to BCCL for undertaking the proposed mine development programme. Meanwhile, the company has been extracting coal by engaging contractors. About 20 contractors have been assigned to raise production from small patches of coal seams. These contractors bring necessary equipment and machine to do the job and get paid against production of coal.

Mr Bhattacherjee informed that the company has been able to raise production in the last couple of months through contract mining. He said the company has ended the 2004-05 fiscal with a record low production of 22.34 mt, out of which 5 mt was coking coal. Judged by the success of contract mining, he was confident the company would be able to achieve the production target of about 26 mt during the current fiscal; at this level of production, the company expects to earn cash profits, he felt.

BCCL has a total of 78 mines, which includes 47 underground, 16 opencast and 15 mixed ones. This apart, it has six coking coal washeries and three non-coking coal washeries. The company has plans to revamp these washeries as the sales realisation of washed coal is increasing in the aftermath of the beginning of coal sales through e-auction. He said the company has already sold about 14 lakh tonnes of coal through e-auction.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 9, 2005)
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