Tata Steel is planning to upgrade its washeries in the West Bokaro coal mine at an estimated investment of around ₹1,500 crore in the next five-to-six years.

The plan, which entails the knocking off of the current seven million tonne (mt) washeries in its captive West Bokaro coking coal mine and the installation of new ones with a capacity of 10 mt, would help improve the quality of coal.

According to DB Sundara Ramam, Vice President, Raw Materials, Tata Steel, the total investment on the project, including putting in place logistics and infrastructure network, would be close to ₹3,000 crore.

“We have studied the project and the total investment, including washeries, logistics, conveyors, etc., is likely to be close to ₹3,000 crore. We will send a proposal to the company’s board,” Sundara Ramam told media on the sidelines of a conference on “Opening up of Coal & Mineral Sector–Opportunities Ahead” organized by the Kolkata Chapter of the Indian School of Mines Alumni Association here on Friday. 

After mining, the coal is washed in the beneficiation plants to reduce the ash content from an average of 36 per cent to 15-18 per cent.

Apart from West Bokaro, Tata Steel has another 3 mt capacity washery in its captive Jharia coking coalfield area. The combined capacity of its washeries is around 10 mt at present, and this would increase to 13 mt once the upgradation is complete.

While the existing washeries can reduce the ash content of coking coal by around 15 per cent, the new ones can reduce it further to 13 per cent, thereby giving an additional cost benefit to the company by improving the quality of the coal.

The ash content of Indian coking coal is exceptionally high, at an average of around 35 per cent. It requires thorough washing to reduce the ash content so that it is feasible for usage in the steel making process.