Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday launched the sixth tranche of commercial coal mines auction, under which the government is offering 141 blocks across 11 States — the biggest auction so far for the key commodity.

The Coal Ministry has offered 133 blocks for auction, of which 71 are new mines and 62 are rolling over from earlier tranches of commercial auctions. Besides, eight blocks from the second attempt of the fifth round of commercial auctions were also included.

Emphasising that coal is an important asset for India’s economic development, Sitharaman termed Thursday’s auction a landmark event. “Eleven States can directly benefit from today’s (Thursday) auction. This will open up their capacities. The sixth tranche takes a very big step forward in releasing greater resources,” the Minister added.

Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi said under commercial coal mining, India has auctioned around 67 blocks so far, and some of them are starting production this year. Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of blocks (30), followed by Chhattisgarh with 28 blocks and Odisha with 27 blocks.

Production target

“This year (FY23), we are hoping for 5 million tonnes (mt), and next year, a minimum of 10-15 mt production will come from commercial coal mines,” said Joshi.

The Minister acknowledged that there was a shortage of around 12 mt of coal; however, 5 mt will come from commercial mines in FY23. Aided by reforms in FY22, the captive coal blocks have produced over 89 mt, which is a first, he added.

“All put together, total coal dispatch in 2014 was 572 mt, and in FY22, India achieved 817 mt. In the ongoing year (FY23), the total production put together, I am very confident, we are going to achieve domestic coal production of 900 mt, inclusive of commercial, captive, abundant mines and Coal India,” the Minister said.