Coal India losing interest in underground mining – by Ajoy K Das ( – January 30, 2017)

KOLKATA ( – Underground mining is increasingly falling off the map of major producer Coal India Limited (CIL), despite the company planning to add an estimated 182-million tons a year to its production profile by 2020.

Higher capital costs, the geological parameters of new reserves and the group’s inability to stop production from underground mines falling have compelled the miner to plan future incremental production entirely from opencut mines.

Production from CIL’s underground mines had been steadily declining from 9% of its total output in 2012 to below 6% in 2016.

According CIL officials, there has been natural depletion of reserves at existing operational underground mines. The absence of contiguous new deposits is said to be a major hurdle to developing new underground mines, as fragmented blocks made the installation of long-wall mining technology unviable in such deposits.

Currently, opencast mines comprise 93% of CIL’s total production, although only 42% of the company’s 413 operational mines are opencut operations.

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