Special Correspondent

Three mines planned this year at an investment of Rs. 527 crores

SCCL Board to take a decision todayRise in production costDiesel bill goes up to Rs. 200 crores

HYDERABAD: Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) may go in for increase in the price of coal in view of the sharp rise in input costs. Hinting at the possibility of a rise, R.H. Khwaja, Chairman and Managing Director, told press persons here on Tuesday that the pricing issue would come up for discussion at the company's board meeting here on Wednesday.

"While looking at the revision, we have to strike a balance between the interests of the company and the consumer. We have to see that the power utilities are not burdened much."

Challenges

Mr. Khwaja explained that it was time for taking a hard look at the coal pricing though the Central Government had the final say in the matter. The company faced challenges with the cost of production having gone up.

Diesel bill for open cast mining alone had shot up to Rs. 200 crores and prices of oil lubricants, steel, tyres and explosives have all gone up. Implementation of seventh wage board from July 1, 2001 to June this year meant spending Rs. 820 crores.

Recalling how the company's balance sheet had accumulated losses of Rs. 1,219 crores in March 1997 and how in the following six years it turned the corner in 2003-04, he said: "We are facing a similar challenge today but we are geared up to meet it in areas where we have control. We are improving the efficiency levels ensuring economy of scale, cutting down wastage and upgrading the technology." Cost of production and sale price was competitive compared to other coal companies.

He said the company was exploring joint ventures with Australian research organisation for scientific mining, with National Thermal Power Corporation for coal mining and power generation and with Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) for bringing out Coal Bed Methane.

During 2005-06, the company achieved a record coal production of 36 million tonnes and best ever productivity (measured as Output per Manshift OMS) of 2.16 tonnes.