The government is open to offering closed and abandoned coal mines to the private sector under the revenue sharing mode, Coal Secretary Amrit Lal Meena said on Thursday.

“We have undertaken a complete survey of all the coal mines which are closed or abandoned, and from where people are still taking out coal. There are about 225 such mines in total,” Meena said at the 17th Indian Coal Markets Conference, organised by mjunction.

“Our endeavour is wherever there are reserves, though it may not be viable for Coal India to extract coal, to offer it to the private sector under the revenue sharing mode. There is response from the private sector. So, we are open to offer those closed and abandoned mines to private sector whosoever is willing to take them, operate them to produce coal and give revenue share to Coal India,” he said.

The Coal Secretary said for those closed mines where there would be no takers, the way forward is final closure in a time-bound manner. Out of the 225 mines, as many as 69 have been identified by Coal India for final closure.

Stopping illegal mining is a high priority for the government. The government is also evaluating the possibility of using the mines, which are under the final closure plan, for alternative uses such as solar parks and pump storage projects.

On setting up of the proposed coal trading exchange, Meena said discussions are on. “After the elections, we will have further consultations,” he informed.

Notably, mjunction Services MD & CEO Vinaya Varma said his company is very keen to participate in the government’s exchange platform opportunity.

“mjunction has been appointed as the exclusive service provider of CIL for conducting the Linkage e-auctions, and it has launched a completely revamped platform for CIL on December 28, 2023,” Varma said at a press meet on the sidelines of the conference.

Earlier, B. Veera Reddy, Director (Technical), Coal India, said the state-run miner is trying to reach the 780 million tonnes production target for this fiscal.

“This year (FY24) our target is 780 million tonnes, which would be about 11 per cent year-on-year growth...As of now, 735 million tonnes of coal has been produced (till March 18). That is the highest ever production for Coal India. And this year, 770 million tonnes plus we will be doing. We are trying to reach the 780 million tonnes target,” Reddy said.

Significantly, during Q3-FY24 results conference call in February, CIL Chairman PM Prasad had said the company might witness a shortfall of around 10 million tonnes of output against the production target. “...if everything goes well, we will try to minimise the gap,” Prasad had said.

Coal India is planning to execute coal gasification projects in an EPC (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) model to make the projects more viable by eliminating the risks for the operators of the plants.

“We will opt for EPC contracts model to make the execution of the gasification projects more attractive. This will help us in faster execution of the projects,” Reddy said on the sidelines of the conference.