Coal Mines in India Under-Utilised: GEM Report

Why in News?

  • As per the Global Energy Monitor Report, India’s Coal Mines are severely under-utilized amid push for new ones.
  • GEM is a firm that tracks fuel-source utilization worldwide. It studies the evolving international energy landscape, creating databases, reports, and interactive tools that improve understanding.

Key Findings of report-

  • New Coal Mines Increasing Risk of Displacement- The coal scarcity prompted the government to commence developing new coal projects, where 99 new coal mines projects are under the pipeline. These projects have the capacity to produce 427 million tonnes of coal annually (mtpa).
  • This is despite India’s pledge to attain net zero emissions by 2070.
  • Due to these projects, 165 villages and 87,630 families will face the risk of displacement. And 41,508 of these families belong to Scheduled Tribes (STs).
  • Coal Mines Under-utilized thus Unnecessary- Since India’s coal mines use is severely underutilized so developing new projects to simply fulfill temporary coal shortage is unnecessary.
  • India’s coal mines use only two-thirds of their capacity on average, with some large ones using only 01%.
  • Delay in Clean Energy Future- These new mines will increase India’s likelihood of stranded assets, delay a clean energy future, and in the process pose irreversible impacts on India’s rural communities and environments for the sake of economically precarious mining ventures.
  • Exacerbate Water Shortage- Water scarcity would be exacerbated by the new coal projects, increasing water demand by 1,68,041 kilolitres per day.
  • Of 427 MTPA in new capacity, 159 MTPA will be located in high-risk water zones, while 230 MTPA is planned for zones with extreme water risk.

Why does New Coal Mines in India require?

  • Mines under development in India are not necessary to meet power-sector demand. The shortage that occurred previous year was due to factors like monsoonal rains, pandemic related supply chain constraints and the Ukraine War.
  • Developing new mines would not resolve the mining sector’s long-standing issues, including financial insolvency and low labor productivity. New mines are likely to be affected by the same inefficiencies.
  • India’s existing capacity is still enough to sustain peak output. Efficiency of operational mines needs to be enhanced.

Why is it necessary to Move Away from Coal?

  • The threat of global warming is emerging large over the planet, and can bring about unprecedented natural calamities.
  • An effective way to keep the danger at bay is to curb the use of fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and oil. Around 80 percent of the world’s energy requirements are met by these three fuels only.
  • The worst culprit of them all is coal, which emits approx. twice as much carbon dioxide as natural gas and about 60 percent more than oil, on a kilogram-to-kilogram comparison.
  • The consequence of these chemical reactions obtains great significance because the power sector in India accounts for 49 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions, compared with the global average of 41 percent.

Coal Mines Industry in India-

  • India is the 2nd largest producer and consumer of coal after China. In India- Jharkhand, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh accounted for almost 70 percent of the total known Coal Reserves.
  • Coal Mines in India- India is also the second largest importer of coal.
  •  Distribution of Coal in India-
  • Gondwana deposits- Gondwana deposits of coal are found in eastern Indian states of Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal etc. Gondwana coal comprises upto 98 percent of the total reserves and 99 percent of the production of coal in India.
  • Tertiary deposits- Carbon content is very low but is rich in moisture and sulphur. Tertiary deposits are found in the north-eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Lignite- Lignite deposits are found mostly in the states of Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
  • Classification-
  • Anthracite (80 – 95% carbon content, present in small quantities in J&K).
  • Bituminous (60 – 80% of carbon content and is found in Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh).
  • Lignite (40 to 55% carbon content, high moisture content and is present in Rajasthan, Lakhimpur (Assam) and Tamil Nadu).
  • Peat (less than 40% carbon content and it is in the first stage of transformation from organic matter (wood) to coal).
  • Usage of coal-
  • Electricity sector is the largest consumer of coal in India. It accounts for around 64.07% of the total coal consumed in the country.
  • Iron and steel industry uses coal for coking. Since India does not have high quality coal reserves, majority of it is imported.
  • Other usage- Coal is also used in industries like cement, fertilizers, chemicals, paper and textiles industries.

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