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Status of Coal Resources in India during last Five Years

As a result of Regional, Promotional and Detailed Exploration by GSI, CMPDI and SCCL etc, the estimation of coal resources of India has reached 247.85 Bt.

The estimates of coal resources in India during last 5 years:

(in Million Tonnes)

As on










1.1.2001(Revised by Sub-Group-II)


























Sectoral Growth over Years

Growth of Coal sector in India since its Independence has been noteworthy making India a global player in coal mining and the third largest producer amongst the coal producing countries in the world. The production of Coal has risen from a level of about 70 mt at the time of nationalisation in early 1970s to around 350 mt in 2004- 05.

Most of the coal production in India comes from openpit mines contributing over 81% of the total production. A number of large openpit mines of over 10 mt per annum capacity are in operation. Shovels with capacity upto 25 cu.m, dumpers upto 170 tonnes, draglines upto 24/96 capacity and inpit crushing conveying system are deployed in hard coal openpit mines. Large capacity bucket wheel excavators are in operation for lignite mining.

Underground mining currently accounts for around 19% of India’s national output. Most of the production is achieved by conventional Bord and Pillar mining methods. Side by side, intermediate technologies using Side Discharge Loaders (SDL) and Load Haul Dumpers (LHD) in Bord and Pillar method of working have been introduced. Contemporary technology in the form of Longwall Powered support has also been introduced on a limited scale. However the productivity in underground mining requires a quantum jump from 0.5 ton per man-year to 3 tons per man-year in the immediate near term.


Coal production achieved in India (excluding Meghlaya) during 2004-05 (April-December) was 266.77 mt as compared to the production of 249.87 mt achieved during same period of the previous year i.e. 2003-2004 showing a growth of 6.8%.

Coal India limited and its subsidiaries are the biggest supplier of coal in India producing 86% of the total coal production in India from their collieries. 228.57 mt of coal were produced by Coal India Limited and its subsidiaries during 2004-2005 (April-December) as against the production of 213.95 mt in 2003- 04 (April-December), showing a growth of 6.8%.

Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) is the main source for supply of coal to the southern region. The company produced 25.08 million tones (provisional) of coal during 2004-2005 (April- December) as against 24.65 mt during the corresponding period last year. Small quantities of coal are also produced by TISCO, IISCO, DVC and others.

For Company-wise production details, refer to the report - 'Overview of Coal Sector in India 2005'


Productivity as measured in terms of raw coal output in tonnes per manshift (OMS) has improved during the last decade for CIL group of coal companies. As against an OMS of 0.58 tonne at the time of nationalization, OMS in Coal India Limited during 2004-05 (April-December) has been 2.93 tonnes. In SCCL, the OMS during 2003-04 was 1.81 tonnes and during 2004-05 (April-December) has been 1.86 tonnes.


At the time of nationalization, there were 118,366 houses including sub-standard houses in Coal India Ltd and its subsidiaries. The availability of these houses has increased to 409,872 (up to December 1, 2004). The percentage of housing satisfaction has reached 86.32%.

Water Supply

In Coal India Ltd & its subsidiaries as against 2.27 lakh population having access to potable water at the time of Nationalization in 1973, presently a populace of 22.78 lakh (up to December 1, 2004) has been covered under water supply scheme.

Demand & Indigenous Supply Mismatch

Along with this quantitative growth, the Indian coal sector has also achieved qualitative growth. While this must be appreciated, it must also be realized that the growth of the sector has not been balanced. Although domestic coal production especially in CIL subsidiaries have registered a growth of 5.40% in the recent past but demand has consistently outstripped indigenous supply and substantial shortages prevail in India.

The coal sector in India has been under pressure over its inability to meet demand (both planned and unplanned) of the user industries. The gap between demand and indigenous supply does not appear to have eased and is projected to increase in the coming years. By Government’s own estimates, coal production will lag behind demand by about 100 million MT as of 2012 and by 250 million MT by 2020.

Key Challenges facing the Sector

The critical issues facing the coal sector are highlighted below:

• Lack of Investments in Mining

In spite of the economic liberalization of 1991 the mining sector has not seen major investments. This is possibly due to the problems such as government policy, land acquisition, development of infrastructure, transportation system, social engineering and community development involved in major green field site projects. There is a need to re-look at the total management solution for attracting investment in new mines. The solution has to lead to the creation of joint venture institutions with central government, state government and private sector as partners.

The facilitation for the project through provision of land, infrastructural development, community development etc, can be done by the government agencies whereas the investment in the mine and the associated technological inputs can come from the private sector. In addition, the private sector must have the freedom to run the mine in a cost effective manner. This may be a long term solution for future mines in India and it will have unique opportunities for both the government and private sector to work together for India's development.

• Historically, opencast mining has been favored over underground mining. This has led to land degradation, environmental pollution and reduced quality of coal as it tends to get mixed with other matter.

• In addition, current economic mining practices are generally limited to depths of 300 meters and 25 percent of the reserves of the country are beyond this depth.

• Further, coal mining in India is associated with poor employee productivity. The output per miner per annum in India varies from 150 to 2,650 tonnes compared to an average of around 12,000 tonnes in the USA and Australia.

• India has still not been able to develop a comprehensive solution to deal with the fly ash generated at coal power stations through use of Indian coal.

• Clean coal technologies, such as Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle, where the coal is converted to gas, are available, but these are expensive and need modification to suit Indian coal specifications.

• Challenges in Jharia

Jharia Coal field in Jharkhand is the richest coal bearing area in India which contains large quantities of high grade coking coal. However, this area also contains a large number of mine fires which have been burning for several decades. A major challenge to the mining community is that of tackling fires which have engulfed large and densely populated coal bearing areas. A technological, cost effective, safe and minimum disturbance solution to this problem has to be found.

For detailed & updated information on the Indian Coal Sector, refer to the report - 'Overview of Coal Sector in India 2005'

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