The government on Thursday offered 67 coal mines for sale, launching the second tranche of commercial coal mining auction and termed it a step towards 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat'.
This is the highest number of mines on offer in a particular tranche after commencement of the auction regime in 2014.
"India launched its 2nd tranche of auction for commercial coal mining, offering 67 mines for sale of coal, today. Union Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi launched the auction process in a programme held in New Delhi," Ministry of Coal said in a statement.
NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant and Coal Secretary Anil Kumar Jain were also present in the function.
Out of the total 67 mines offered by the ministry, 23 are under Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act and 44 under Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act.
The blocks on offer are a mix of mines with small and large reserves, coking and non-coking mines and fully and partially explored blocks spread across 6 States - Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
“We are making coal the driver of economic activities in the country. There are huge opportunities that the Indian coal sector is offering. Therefore, I invite investors to come and be a part of vastly untapped coal reserves in the country. Grow your businesses and take India along on the growth course,” Mr. Joshi said while launching the auction.
Commercial coal mining will bring in new investments, create huge employment opportunities and boost socio-economic development in coal-bearing States, and a market-based coal economy will help the nation become Aatmanirbhar in coal, he said.
The Coal Minister also said looking at the past success, the government is moving towards adopting a ‘Rolling Auction’ mechanism for conducting future auctions. Coal is the first mineral resource where this mechanism is being implemented in which a pool of coal blocks will always remain available for auctions.
“With rolling auctions, we will upload a comprehensive list of mines along with key technical data and bidders can submit their preferences for the mines to be included in the next tranche of auction. This would be a continuous process and would result in expediting the auction setup. Moreover, it will also help bidders in planning better and would further enhance transparency in the system," Mr. Joshi added.
He also said that along with promoting commercial coal mining, the government is also looking at reforming the existing e-auction mechanism of Coal India Ltd (CIL) and considering clubbing different e-auction windows of CIL into one.
This will help in moving towards 'One Price for One Coal Grade'.
Selling coal at market-determined prices through one e-auction window would help in simplifying the system and promoting transparency.
Mr. Kant noted that start of commercial coal mining is the most revolutionary and progressive measure taken in the coal sector of the country.
"It will bring the leading miners with latest technologies and cost competitiveness in the Indian coal sector. Indian coal sector will witness huge improvements in productivity and modernisation,” he said.
Mr. Jain highlighted the fact that in this tranche of auction, special emphasis has been given on protection of the environment.
"Coal blocks have been selected in those areas where forest cover is low, coal quality is good, mines are close to the infrastructure facilities and resettlement & rehabilitation has to be done at the minimum. More coking coal mines have been offered so that India’s import of coking coal can also be reduced,” Mr. Jain added.
Total 19 mines were auctioned in the first-ever tranche of commercial coal mining auction held last year with the premium quoted by the successful bidders in the range of 9.5-66.75%.
The agreements between the Ministry of Coal and the successful bidders were signed in January this year.
States will fetch around ₹7,000 crore of revenues from these auctions considering production at peak rated capacity of 51 Million Tonnes Per Annum (MTPA).