State-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL) is planning to usher in a new era in mining technology for its huge untapped coal reserves. CIL will introduce high wall mining in India and has also turned to global mining majors to raise production output.
To begin with, CIL has identified 17 mines for high wall mining in South Eastern Coalfields, Central Coalfields and Western Coalfields, according to CIL chairman Partha Bhattacharya.
High wall mining is a form of surface mining where a continuous mining machine is driven using remote control into thin seams exposed by previous open cut operations.
“Tendering has started in five of the 17 mines for the new mining technology that will be in operation within six months,” Bhattacharya said. “We are gradually moving to a capital-intensive, highly mechanised phase of mining from a labour intensive one.”
Several US-based high wall mining companies like Superior High wall Mining, American High Wall and Adcar have already expressed interest in forming joint ventures for high wall mining.
“Lot of capital is required to operate and own a high wall miner,” said Gautam Dhar, CIL chief general manager (new technology). “ However, outsourcing would eliminate huge investments in capital and technology.”
CIL plans to produce 20 MT a year from high wall mining by 2011-12.
Apart from introducing new technology, CIL is also scouting for technology partners from China, US, UK and Australia to raise the output from its surface and underground mines, including the abandoned mines.
CIL plans to raise its coal output to 520 mt by 2011-2012 from the present 380 mt. Production from underground mines stands at 44 mt , while open cast mines account for 336 mt at present. CIL had issued expressions of interest for development and operation of seven new underground mines with combined geological reserves of 600 mt.