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Published:Sunday, March 17, 2019 6:11 PM

Coaltrans Conference, India- Highlights

Coaltrans Conference, India- Highlights

How about the global coal community gathering under a roof and sharing its views on a sustainable coal market? The 18th Coaltrans, India was one such event where industry leaders from different countries of the world expressed their notions on favourable and unfavourble factors impacting the much-anticipated mineral’s business. The plenary sessions in the event emphasized the bearish and bullish affairs of current coal market and featured the driving forces that are impacting the worldwide trade. This whitepaper reveals key takeaways from the 18th Coaltrans, India recently held in New Delhi from 18th February – 20th February 2019.

Indian Coal Sector: Thrust Areas
 
 
Challenges
  • Ramping-up Domestic Coal Production
  • Expediting the exploration of coal
  • Strengthening Coal Evacuation Infrastructure
  • Adoptation of Clean Coal Technologies
Thrust Areas
  • Safety
  • Quality
  • Environment
  • Coal Block Allocation & Operationalization
  • Coal Distribution
  • New Technology
  • Exploration
  • Coal Evacuation

 

The government’s agenda to bring last mile connectivity of electricity in India is a commendable step while its reliable supply remains a formidable challenge. The reason is scarcity of affordable and reliable source of energy. Though the plummeted tariffs of renewable resources make it affordable but considering it to be a reliable one is itself a question because of its “cyclic behavior”. This necessitates baseline capacity of coal-based generation for stable supply. India’s present energy mix has major share of coal (56.70%) where 77% of total electricity is generated from coal-based power plants. As quoted by Dr. Anindya Sinha, Project Adviser, MoC, the factors stumbling the Indian coal market needs to be addressed together with focus on its thrust areas.

Deliberations around clean coal technologies are quickly taking place owing to climate change. On coal distribution front, the whole supply chain must be rationalized because cannot say whether import will increase or decrease in the future but to consolidate this the domestic coal production should be ramped-up.  Mr. H.S. Bajwa, Executive Director Traffic, Ministry of Railways voicedthatThermal Coal imports were at peak till 2015 & dropped due to improved domestic availability. The Indian Railways association with CIL has become stronger and much needed has been done to enhance last mile connectivity, rolling stock acquisition and capacity augmentation. While the cement manufacturers association, India highlighted inadequate rakes for linkage coal as a persistent issue for cement companies impacting the operations. For example, 85% rakes are pending for more than 3 months from SECL resulting incremental demand to be met by imports. As of now rigorous work is going on for network expansion in the form of dedicated freight corridors (D FCs).

To ensure availability of robust quality of coal free from high ash content, beneficiation of coal will not only improve the performance of the plant but will also transportation cost. In this backdrop, admirable technological advancements have been made in coal industry such as deployment of environment friendly surface miners, High Angle Conveyors, Pipe conveyors, Terrestrial Laser Scanner (TSL) and Drones for survey, Vehicle Tracking System, High Capacity Longwall Mining Technology and Mine Cruiser in UG mines etc. However, Mr. Alok Perti, Ex Coal Secretary expressed that use of technology will require change in systems. Until we are not sure of new things, pilot projects are the solution.

International Coal Market

Coal consumption is likely to fall in coming years. Today its utilization is drastically declined in Europe and North America. The Asian countries have also initiated to phase out coal as per climate change propaganda while most of the coal fired plants are still under their useful lifecycle that will continue to operate in coming decades. The steam coal importing nations of Atlantic are expected to increase imports. The Coal exporters have their own reasons as to why they would not be able to provide coal as much as they ship now. Australia is facing a tough time to boost coal shipments due to problems in getting mining approvals & finances and increasing domestic opposition to coal industry. Indonesia has constraints such as fulfilling the requirement indicating decline in exports. South African market suffers logistic constraints especially in rail transportation mode and high requirement in local market. In China coal market, measures have been taken to limit coal imports by imposing an indefinite ban where it mostly receives coal from Australia. As far as use of coking coal in steel industry is concerned, China has made a shift towards electric arc furnace technology and moved away from blast furnaces using coking coal and hence resulting in falling of coking coal demand. On the other hand, India is being considered as major hope for the sector. The imports will certainly grow amid improvement in domestic coal production and necessity for new projects. It is quite clear that the world is at the cusp of alternative energy resource. For many nations it is all about accelerating the transition towards clean energy resource while many of them are scouting for energy security and uphold economic development.

Key Takeaways from the 18th Coaltrans India

The foremost key takeaway from Coaltrans, India was that despite the surge in domestic coal production, coal imports will matter in the years to come. The non-power sectors have appeared as the major coal importers in India due to preferential coal block allotments to power sector.

Secondly, regarding the thrust areas which coal companies have identified, significant efforts have improved the operational efficiencies in recent years. This also came as an immense opportunity of investment in coal and other sectors. The much-awaited issue of allowing commercial mining still needs a verdict by policymakers.

At last, supported sectors for evacuation of coal like rail, road and seaports have made commendable improvements in their logistic management practices by network augmentation without affecting the landed cost of coal to large extent.

 

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