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India wants to triple coal production for energy autonomy

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One of the world’s largest coal producers and users, India, aims to triple its coal production from underground mines in a bid to meet energy demand with a more ‘environmentally friendly’ production method than open-pit mining.

Earlier this month, India’s Ministry of Coal said it plans to produce 100 million tonnes of coal from underground mines by 2030, as part of a plan to stop coal imports by 2025-2026.

Coal production from underground mines will be further increased by 2030 through the use of mass production technologies, Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi said at the launch of a new round of auctions for 39 mines.

This choice of the government is done in countertrend with various western countries, from the EU to the US, which tend to eliminate coal as it is considered polluting. However, this fossil energy source will allow India to have a continuous, abundant, cheap and domestically available source of energy.

‘Coal continues to play a key role in India’s economic growth and development,’ Amrit Lal Meena, a senior official in India’s Coal Ministry, said in an FT release.

According to Meena, underground mining – which India has not focused on in recent years due to higher costs and risks – does not lead to substantial land degradation and ‘disturbance to the earth is minimal’.

While the COP28 climate summit, starting this week in Dubai, is expected to discuss the future of coal and other fossil fuels, India continues to focus on coal to meet its growing electricity and industrial demand. Coal still generates about 70 per cent of India’s electricity.
Indian coal production increased by 18.59% to 78.65 million tonnes in October compared to the same month a year earlier, according to data provided by India’s Ministry of Coal earlier this month.

Between April and October, the first seven months of India’s fiscal year 2023/2024, Indian coal production increased 13.05% year-on-year to 507 million tonnes, according to the data.

“The Ministry of Coal remains determined in its commitment to ensure continuous production and distribution of coal, thereby ensuring a reliable energy supply that will support the nation’s continued development,” it said in early November.

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