The Telegraph
Friday , February 14 , 2014
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CIL for underground mining

Sriprakash Jaiswal (right) and S. Narsing Rao in Calcutta on Thursday. A Telegraph picture

Calcutta, Feb. 13: Policy and regulatory hurdles are bigger challenges to coal mining in India than technology.

Coal India chairman S. Narsing Rao today said besides technological challenges, there was a need to promote underground mining and faster clearances to step up production, which is expected to reach 1,000 million tonnes (mt) by 2020.

“Mining is really a technological challenge. But, today the problem is more social, political, environmental, administrative and regulatory,” Rao said at the 5th International Mining, Exploration, Mineral Processing Technology, Metals & Machinery Exhibition today organised by Mining, Geological & Metrological Institute of India.

“If the effort and time required is the same to produce 10mt through open cast and 0.5-1mt through underground, it is logical that we focus more on the open cast so that we can get quick coal,” Rao said.

He, however, pointed out that once the surface coal bottomed out, there was a possibility of the supply crisis deepening.

Of the 600mt of coal produced in India, more than 500 mt is sourced from open cast mines.

Several underground projects of Coal India are stuck on account of regulatory hurdles and environmental clearances. Rao pointed out that it was necessary to obtain surface rights even for underground mining, where the surface is not disturbed.

He emphasised the need for regulatory relaxation for underground mining as impact on surface is minimal compared with open cast mining. Underground mining can minimise the impact of displacement of people and forestland.

Coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said underground mining had declined over the years and there was a need for a balanced approach.