The Indian government announced on Friday that India plans to lease abandoned coal mines from mining companies to support production that is struggling to deal with the consequences of a record heat wave in the country.
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In total, the government plans to lease more than 100 public idle coal mines to private miners on a revenue sharing basis.
Indian leaders said they are ready to simplify administrative procedures to encourage bids from mining giants such as Vedanta and Adani among others.
India needs 1 billion tons of coal to meet domestic demand every year.
But unusually hot March and April have driven up India’s energy demand in recent weeks, so coal is now running out for power plants to meet demand.
India, the world’s third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, relies on “black diamonds” for 70% of its massive energy needs. The current shortage of coal to meet the increase in demand due to rising temperatures is estimated at about 25 million tons, all in the context of the high prices of this resource since the beginning of the year.
Most of the country’s needs are provided by domestic producers, with 777 million tons of coal extracted between March 2021 and March 2022.
The government wants to increase the country’s coal production year on year to 1.2 billion tons over the next two years to support the country’s economic recovery after the pandemic.
Despite the ambitious target set for developing renewable energy by 2030, coal is expected to remain the dominant fuel in India, with its energy needs expected to grow over the next 20 years faster than those of any other country in the world, experts say.
Indian Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi recently said that the country’s coal needs are expected to double by 2040.
The plan announced by the government on Friday is another step in the process of liberalizing the mining sector in India, which has the fifth largest coal reserves in the world.
New Delhi had already opened up coal mining to private companies in 2020, officially ending the decades-old state monopoly.
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