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GSI identifies 46 new coal blocks; 12 of these are in West Bengal

The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has identified 46 new coal blocks in the country, out of which 12 are located in West Bengal. Out of the 34 new coal blocks outside Bengal, Chattisgarh has 12, Madhya Pradesh 11, Maharashtra 4, Jharkhand 1, Telangana 2, North-Eastern regions 3 and Andhra Pradesh 1, Director-General of GSI Harbans Singh said here on Tuesday.

“We will soon hand over these blocks to the Coal Ministry, probably by this month. The ministry will then perform a detailed exploration of these blocks before they are auctioned,” Singh said during a media interaction at the GSI headquarters here.

“The exploration depends on the size of the blocks. But, generally it takes one or one-and-a-half year’s time for the exploration after which they will be ready for auctioning,” the DG elaborated.

According to GSI scientists, the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute is generally given the task to upgrade blocks before they are ready for auctioning. The 12 blocks in West Bengal are located in Birbhum, Bankura and Burdwan districts (Raniganj and Birbhum Coal field areas), the officer said.

Scientists say that the GSI organises 600 to 700 “exploration programmes” annually taking four to five years to complete mineral exploration of a particular area.

Meanwhile, coal imports will remain strong over the coming quarters despite rise in domestic production, says a research report. “Coal imports will remain strong over the coming quarters as India will continue to be unable to meet domestic coal consumption,” the report by Fitch Group firm BMI Research has said. 

Even though domestic coal production is rising faster than domestic consumption, due to lack of transport infrastructure and low coal prices, seaborne coal demand from power plants along the coast will remain strong, it said.

Due to new capacity additions, coal consumption in the country remains higher than production, with a structural deficit of 187 million tonnes in 2015. “Over the long term, as India attempts to hit its ambitious plans of doubling production by 2020 and production from its auctioned coal mines finally come online, we expect imports to fall,” it said. 

For instance, during the first eight months of 2015, India’s thermal coal imports grew by 27.7 per cent y-o-y. Moreover, coking coal imports grew by 17.3 per cent during the first eight months of 2015, it said. However, Coal Secretary Anil Swarup had earlier said that coal import had come down to 148.86 mt during April-January FY2015-16 from 177.96 mt in the same period of previous fiscal. 

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