Coal India Ltd (CIL) has initiated 17 more first-mile connectivity (FMC) projects under phase III at an estimated cost of ₹11,000 crore. These projects have been planned for a loading capacity of 317 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) and would help strengthen its network of eco-friendly transportation.

CIL is preparing a rollout plan to float tenders for the latest projects by FY25, and commissioning would be in two years thereon by FY27, the company said in a statement. These are in addition to the existing 44 such projects it pursues under two phases.

The FMC projects reveal positive of environmental and economic benefits under a pilot study conducted in two of its opencast (OC) mines has encouraged the state-owned miner to pursue this mode actively. Results have indicated a significant reduction in particulate matter, CO and other gaseous emissions compared to despatch through rail sidings.   

Of the identified 17 projects, two of its subsidiaries - Mahanadi Coalfields (MCL) and Central Coalfields (CCL) would put up six each, followed by South Eastern Coalfields (SECL) with three projects. Western Coalfields and Bharat Coking Coal Ltd would have one project each.

Significantly, MCL, CCL and SECL account for 15 of the upcoming projects. The present projection indicates that they would contribute to the bulk of future output at more than two-thirds of CIL’s production.    

“We have expanded the scope of loading through FMC projects. Now, every coal project having production capacity of 1 MTPA and more would move coal through FMC mode. This is subject to techno-economic viability and the 17 projects have been identified under this criterion,” a senior official of CIL said.

Under phase-I, only those projects having 4 MTPA output capacity were included for FMC mode evacuation.

The company is also supplementing FMC projects by dovetailing 12 rail connectivity projects with them at the cost of ₹ 1700 crore. The plan is to commission rail connectivity by FY27, when Phase III projects are expected to turn operational. As many as 24 rail connectivity links have already been identified for 35 Phase I FMC projects at a capex of ₹3,660 crore. Of these, four are already commissioned and 20 are under construction.

According to CIL, the existing 151 mt FMC evacuation capacity and all projects under three phases are aimed at transporting 940 mt of coal through an environment-friendly transportation system. The loading capacity of 35 Phase I FMC projects and that of 9 Phase II projects is 415 mt and 57 mt, respectively.

“Carbon footprint suppression would be sizeable when FMC projects are implemented at full capacity,” the official said.

National Coal Logistic Plan

To strengthen India’s energy security and to realise AtmaNirbhar Bharat by replacing imported coal with domestically mined, the Ministry has set a target to produce 1.3 billion tonnes (BT) in FY25 and 1.5 BT by FY30. The development of coal transportation that is cost-efficient, fast and environmental friendly is an important goal, the government said.

Keeping in view the increased coal evacuation in future, the Ministry of Coal is working on developing the National Coal Logistic Plan, including FMC through railway sidings near coal mines and strengthening the rail network in coalfields. It has formulated a strategy to develop an integrated approach for eliminating road transportation of coal in mines and has taken steps to upgrade mechanised transportation and loading systems under FMC projects. 

Ministry of Coal has undertaken 51 FMC projects (44 – CIL, 4- SCCL and 3 – NLCIL) of 522 mt capacity, of which 8 projects (6-CIL & 2-SCCL) of 95.5 mt capacity have been commissioned. These 51 projects will cost around ₹18,000 crore, and all of them will be commissioned by FY25. Since CIL has taken up new coal production projects, it has been proposed to take up an additional 17 FMC projects with 317 mt capacity to be implemented between FY20-27, the statement said.