CIL to strengthen underground mining operations, focusing on green mining options

In an effort to minimize adverse environmental impacts, Coal India (CIL) is seeking to take a number of measures, including stepping up underground mining operations and focusing on green mining options through the use of multiple environmental technologies in its underground (UG) and open mines (OC).

The country’s largest miner aims to quadruple UG production to 100 million tonnes (mt) by fiscal year 30 from 25.6 million tonnes in fiscal year 22. UG production is environmentally friendly, minimally invasive in terms of land degradation and beneficial to society. About 70 percent of the country’s coal reserves are favorable for UG mining.

“The aim is to enable UG’s production to significantly complement OC’s production. At the current rate, the coal reserves that are being extracted in the existing OCs will slowly begin to decline, “said a senior company official.

Since nationalization in 1975, underground mine production has shrunk by nearly 58 percent to fiscal year 22, while open-pit mine production has increased 8.5 times.

What tipped the scales

The loss-making production, the longer pregnancy, the lack of skilled labor, the lack of local equipment and the high cost of departmental production were some of the reasons that tipped the scales against UG mines.

“With many options available now, UG production can become viable. Important among them are – mass production technologies, the presence of local production units and a well-trained skilled workforce. Outsourcing contractors would also reduce production costs. The gestation period is also significantly shorter now. With these benefits, CIL plans to continuously increase UG’s blocked coal assets, “the official said.

Using technology in OC mines

Land is considered a major sore point for expanding coal mining, but the use of environmental technologies could help circumvent land acquisition and avoid land degradation. Locked-in coal assets, previously abandoned due to techno-commercial and safety concerns, can now be found through these technologies, he said.

Among the mass production technologies, CIL plans to introduce 50 continuous miners up to 25 FG with a peak production potential of 25 mt per year. Up to 21 such machines are already deployed in ECL, CCL and SECL, producing 9 mt per year.

Two long-walled propulsion machines (PSLWs), operating in the ECL and BCCL, produced 1.58 mt in fiscal 22 against 1.13 mt in fiscal 21, up 40 percent. Two more PSLWs with a total capacity of 4.5 mt per year will soon be deployed at BCCL.

Extraction by introducing a stroke

First of all, CIL aims to extract coal by drilling in those OC mines that have reached their final level in the mine. It plans to identify and implement five such mines through phased up to 24 financial years. So coal mining assets can be extracted with economic viability.

In addition, it also plans to deploy 10 high-wall machines in its OC mines during the current fiscal period with an estimated production potential of 5 mt per year. This will result in a total capital cost of about ₹ 2,000 kroner.

CIL also plans to use paste filling technology, which is another environmental boundary that includes high-speed harvesting technology. This will be compatible with mass production technology. Unlike conventional sand storage, it uses fly ash to fill the void created by extracting coal from UG mines. Such a system is at an advanced stage of implementation in ECL.

Posted on

June 17, 2022

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