Millennium Post

Coal India to invest $20 bn over next five years: Goyal

State-owned miner Coal India Limited (CIL) will invest $20 billion (over Rs 1.27 lakh crore) to increase production to one billion tonne over the next five years, Coal Minister Piyush Goyal said on Friday. “CIL has set a target to attain one billion tonne of coal production by 2019-20. This would entail a ballpark investment of $20 billion,” Goyal told reporters here.

Goyal said that the money would be spent in technology, equipment and upgradation of the existing facilities. “A part of it will also go towards setting up <g data-gr-id="48">infrastructure</g> for evacuation”. The investment amount had been arrived at following a detailed mine-by-mine plan, he said, adding that the balance sheet of CIL was strong enough to support the capital expenditure programme. The increase in production will be from the existing mines and also the new ones. 

Exuding confidence that the target is achievable, Goyal said that in the first 43 days of the current fiscal, there had been 11.1 per cent rise in production over the similar previous period. During 2014-15, the increase in production was 32 million <g data-gr-id="37">tonnes,</g> <g data-gr-id="38">while</g> during the <g data-gr-id="40">four year</g> period from 2010 to 2014, the production was lower at 31 million tonnes.

The government would support this endeavour, he <g data-gr-id="55">said,</g> and urged all the stakeholders, including the state governments, for a shared responsibility. “This has to be achieved expeditiously in a time bound manner,” Goyal said. Goyal said CIL would be opening 70 to 100 mines while the state governments would be adding 39 for boosting power production in their states. Another 70 to 80 mines would be opened by the private sector, he added. When asked whether the country would have enough consumption capacity for one billion tonne after five years, Goyal said that 28 crore Indians do not have electricity at homes. “India needs to double electricity production to two trillion units in five years which will necessitate <g data-gr-id="53">higher</g> demand for coal,” he said.

CIL will become the most valuable company after five years, Goyal said, adding that it has been able to maintain profitability without raising prices. Asked when CIL would hike prices, he <g data-gr-id="51">said</g> “it is a Maharatna company and will take its own decision”. On coal imports, he said: “We will see a declining trend in the imports of thermal coking coal. It will stop after two years. But imports of high-calorific coal will continue”. CIL is banking on its two subsidiaries, Mahanadi Coal Fields and South Eastern Coalfields, to play a pivotal role in <g data-gr-id="52">targetted</g> capacity expansion.

Last fiscal, CIL production was 494 million tonnes, 3 <g data-gr-id="44">per cent</g> short of <g data-gr-id="41">target</g>. Asked about the next round of coal block auctions, Goyal said: “We are studying the demand-supply situation, environmental issues and the readiness of the mines”. Regarding challenges relating to land acquisition, he said there were minor issues with `right of way’ and were being sorted.

A few days ago, Goyal had announced that investments worth $250 billion are planned over the next five years in coal, power and renewable energy and 40-50 new coal mines would be opened in 18 months. “The Power, Coal and Renewable energy sectors have plans to invest nearly USD 250 billion in the next five years.... In the coal sector we are looking at opening nearly 40-50 new mines in the next one and half year,” he said. 

Bangladesh and India decide to power private sector alliances
India and Bangladesh have agreed to open ways for <g data-gr-id="96">private</g> sector partnership to swap electricity alongside existing government-level cooperation, officials said on Friday as power secretaries of the two countries concluded a two-day meeting here. “We are already engaged in the government level (cooperation in powers sector) and now the two countries agreed to allow private sector partnership in this sector,” a Bangladeshi energy ministry spokesman said.

His comments came as the Joint Steering Committee on the Power Sector led by Power Secretary P K Sinha and his Bangladeshi counterpart <g data-gr-id="99">Monowar</g> Islam concluded its ninth meeting and second in six months late on Thursday. “Private-private cooperation is just like we have the public-public (involving two countries’ state-owned entities) cooperation. That could be either in Bangladesh or in India,” Sinha earlier said in brief comments emerging from the steering committee meeting with Islam. Officials familiar with the meeting said that the proposal of the private sector partnership was floated by the Indian side as several Indian companies including Reliance previously expressed interest for investment in power in Bangladesh. 

“We have <g data-gr-id="83">discussed about</g> the Indian companies interests to invest in our power sector alongside the issues of importing power from Nepal and Bhutan through India,” Islam said. Sinha supplemented him saying India would examine the required regulatory measures in enabling Bangladesh to import hydropower from Nepal and Bhutan.

An official statement issued after the meeting said the meeting reviewed the progress on Bangladesh’s move for import of additional 600 Mw power from India, of which 100 Mw would come from Tripura’s Palatana power project starting next December while <g data-gr-id="93">the the</g> remaining 500 Mw was expected to reach from December, 2017. 
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