Coal India’s focus on minimising carbon emissions likely to accrue “significant savings”

Shobha Roy | | Updated on: Nov 17, 2021
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Mechanised coal transportation will also ensure an improved reliability in coal despatches

At a time when the country, under COP26 commitment, has pledged a reduction of CO2 emissions aiming for net zero, the country’s largest coal miner Coal India is stepping up focus on minimising carbon emissions through the implementation of mechanised coal transportation and loading through coal handling plants (CHP) and silos under its first mile connectivity (FMC) initiative.

A recent pilot study sponsored by CIL in two opencast mines indicate that the miner is likely to accrue significant savings through mechanised loading, apart from bringing down CO2 emissions and ensuring improved reliability in coal despatches, especially during monsoon.

Dipstick survery

CIL had engaged the services of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, a unit of the Council of Scientific Industrial Research, to evaluate potential environmental advantages of loading coal through CHPs and silos in Lingaraj and Gevra opencast projects of MCL and SECL, respectively, as a dipstick survey.

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According to the study, total saving of 58.38 lakh litres of diesel from pay loaders and tippers was indicated in Lingaraj OCP entailing a benefit of ₹105 crore including transportation costs. In the case of Gevra, savings on diesel was to the tune of 26.95 lakh litres benefiting a little over ₹65 crore including transportation costs. Diesel price considered was from January-February 2021 when the study was conducted.

First mile connectivity initiative

Under the first mile connectivity initiative, CIL has been switching over to mechanised transportation of coal through conveyor belts and loading by CHP and silos. In addition to 151 million tonnes (mt) of coal currently transported through this means, CIL has identified 35 coal mining projects where an additional 415 mt of coal would be loaded through environment friendly CHPs and silos by 2023-24. The FMC projects, which is estimated to entail an investment of around ₹10,500 crore, would lift the total mechanised loading quantity to 566 mt. Of the 35 projects identified, five projects worth 70 mt have already commenced operation and the remaining 30 are in various stages of execution.

Encouraging results

Though it is difficult to extrapolate the total savings accrued to the company once the projects are operational given the differences in mine layout and geo-mining conditions among others, the cost benefit would be significant, a senior company official told BusinessLine .

“The result of the study is encouraging. Mechanised loading offers a bouquet of environmental benefits like reduced CO2 emissions, other air pollutants and ambient noise levels. Reliability in coal despatches also increases, especially during monsoon, as silo loading avoids road transport,” the CIL official said.

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With Lingaraj OCP having 16 mt CHP and silo loading capacity per annum, the pilot study established an annual reduction of 10,288 tonnes CO2 emissions. This indicates an overall 54 per cent drop in emissions compared to despatch through rail sidings. There was also a reduction of around 73 per cent in particulate matter and other gaseous emissions.

Gevra, which has 10 mt CHP and silo capacity, saw a reduction in CO2 emissions of 1,658 tonnes per year — a drop of around 21 per cent against loading through sidings. There was a reduction of around 84 per cent in particulate matter and other gaseous emissions.

Productivity gains

CIL is dovetailing FMC projects with main rail lines, strengthening the rail connectivity at an investment of approximately ₹2,335 crore. The company is also investing ₹3,750 crore in 21 new rail sidings.

Silo loading compared to prevalent loading through sidings also leads to productivity gain on quality and quantity fronts.

Published on November 17, 2021

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