The Union coal ministry has started the auctions for 67 coal blocks under the second tranche of commercial coal auctions.
“This will be a rolling auction through which even if seven blocks are picked immediately, companies will be able to pick the remaining blocks anytime, as it will be on offer 24x7 on our website,” said Pralhad Joshi, Union minister of coal and mines.
Out of the 67 blocks on offer -- spread over Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh -- 37 are fully explored, meaning it could be brought to production immediately, and 30 partially. Companies will have to submit technical bids in the first stage.
During the first round of auctions held last year, 19 mines received successful bids, out of the 38 on offer. The companies that won blocks in that round included Vedanta, Adani Enterprises, Hindalco Industries, Jindal Power, The Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation, Aurobindo Reality and Infrastructure, Fairmine Carbons, Chowgule And Company, EMIL Mines And Mineral Resources, Stratatech Mineral Resources, Sarda Energy And Minerals, JMS Mining, Boulder Stone Mart, Yazdani International and Aurobindo Reality And Infrastructure.
The first round is expected to generate annual revenue of Rs 7,000 crore for states like Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. During the second round held early this year, only Vedanta submitted bids for the Kuraloi mines in Odisha, out of the four blocks on offer.
The minister said that the coal and mining sector contributes around 1.75 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) now, which the ministry wants to increase to 2.5 percent by 2024-25, through increased private participation.
The minister added that the government’s aim is to stop the import of thermal coal. “By 2040, India’s energy requirement is going to double and around 50 percent of that will be contributed by the coal sector. From gold to coal, we have to stop imports,” he said.
This comes after the Lok Sabha cleared a bill to amend the Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act last week. The bill proposed removing the distinction between captive and non-captive mines and the introduction of a National Mineral Index (NMI) for various statutory payments.
“We want to make things attractive for the downstream industry, especially the power sector,” said Anil Kumar Jain, secretary at the ministry of coal.
Jain added that, in the first 15 days of March, power demand in the country increased by more than 20 percent, compared to the same time last year. Interestingly, it was the coal sector that contributed 22 percent of this additional requirement, also compensating for a 2 percent shortage from the nuclear sector.