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Essel steps into Rajmahal

Ranchi, April 25: Essel Mining and Industries Limited (EMIL), an Aditya Birla Group company, is expected to take over the task of mining and transporting coal from Rajmahal Open Cast Project of Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) to augment existing production capacity and ensure smooth supply of coal to public sector thermal power units in Bihar and Bengal.

Essel has started the process of large-scale recruitment of mining professionals including engineers, survey officers, security officers, foremen, fitters, welders, electricians, operators, mining sardars, supervisors and environment officers for the project’s mining and transportation work, which the company bagged through an international competitive bid last year.

“Mining and transportation would start soon in Rajmahal. We have already visited the facility,” said an Essel official from the Calcutta office of the head of the company’s domestic coal business operations.

The move would ensure smooth supply of coal to two units of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) situated in Kahalgaon (Bihar) and Farakka (Bengal).

Speaking to The Telegraph from Rajmahal in Godda district, ECL’s manager (administration) J.L. Pathak said an Essel team had visited the area recently.

At present, ECL executes the task of mining and transportation with the help of several local contractors. However, problems of coal shortage to meet any extra demand by NTPC is common, sources said.

That is where Essel, which is in the business of contract coal mining, comes in.

To meet the requirement generated by the expansion plans of NTPC, the Rajmahal project has to increase its capacity to a peak production level of 17MTPA from the current 10.5MTPA.

Rajmahal is an open cast operational mine located in Godda district, about 60km from the district headquarters on the Sahebganj border, which is also close to Bengal as well as Bihar. It is one of the largest operational coal mines in India.

Essel was supposed to commence operations by April 2012 itself. According to the contract, the initial duration of the project is 12.5 years.

In November 2011, state-run NTPC’s power projects in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa were one of the worst-affected in the eastern region due to a coal supply crisis, resulting in lower than target power production.

Notably, Essel is also doing similar work in Bhubaneswari Open Cast Project, which is under the command of Mahanadi Coalfields Limited, another subsidiary of Coal India Limited. It was for the first time in the history of CIL that operations of a coal mine was fully outsourced to a private firm even though the ownership remained with the concerned subsidiary.