Can plug coal import gaps by raising output

Coal India unions have called for a strike against government’s decision to allow 100% FDI in mining. How are you reassuring them?

Yes, the unions have called for a strike on September 24. We are in constant dialogue with them, and even had a meeting. This is government of India’s decision.

What’s your view?

Competition is welcome, we are ready for it.

What are your concerns on economic slowdown. Will it affect capital expenditure and targets of Coal India?

As far as Coal India is concerned, there is absolutely no slowdown. We are not in a position to meet country’s coal demand. Last year, CIL produced 607 million tonnes of coal and the country, as a whole, produced 730 MT. So 83% was from Coal India Ltd. But consumption was 965 MT, so we had to import 235 MT of coal. Demand is increasing and we are trying to bridge the demandsupply gap as much as possible.

How much of India’s needs will you be able to meet?

India imported 235 million tonnes of coal. Out of this, we will have to import 120 million tonnes — 50 million tonnes of coking coal and 70 MT for power plants in the coastal region, where logic supports coal import. But 150 million tonnes of non-coking coal imports can be reduced by enhancing our own production. Coal’s contribution to electricity generation is 70%, this will reduce with renewable energy’s share growing. But in absolute terms, the quantity of coal won’t reduce because India has a huge requirement of electricity, which will rise from 360 GW to 500 GW.

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Is the state-run miner behind the target this year?

In the last six months, we have fallen behind our target. We are behind by around 20 MT. We are trying to make up for it in the coming six months. It is due to a host of reasons. In case of MCL (Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd), we suffered a lot due to cyclone Fani in Odisha. In August and September, the same coalfields were hit by excessive rains. We also had some law and order issues in some other subsidiaries.

How much has this law and order issue, particularly the strike at MCL post the accident cost you?

It is difficult to quantify… law and order issues have cost us some production. With each tonne of coal production lost, Coal India loses ?400-500 from our profit. From a country’s perspective, the selling price of coal is ?1,200-1300 per tonne, so each tonne of coal not produced is a loss of ?1,200 -1300.

Are you being able to meet your clients’ requirements? How much is coal stock at plants currently?

Presently, there is an average of 13 days’ stock at power plant and 13 days at pitheads. By March-end, we are trying to make it to a stock of 22 days.

Any disinvestment plans?

I will not be able to answer that. This is not my company. You can ask coal minister about that. I am only the custodian of Coal India.


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