Underground coal mining the best option: UK expert

A UK expert on coal mining feels India will be better off going in for underground mining of coal rather than restricting itself to surface mining.

This will not only help it meets its growing coal demand for power generation, but also enable greater mechanisation and reduce environmental degradation caused by surface mining.

Addressing a plenary session on “Sustainability: prosperity that preserves resources and limits emissions” at the summit, David Johnson, Non-Executive Chairman of Hargreaves Mining India Ltd, said proven technology for efficient underground coal mining was available elsewhere in the world.

India had plans to more than double, by 2020, the quantity of coal mined from about 600 million tonnes a year now.

Johnson said nearly 95 per cent of coal mined in China was underground, while in the US and Australia, it accounted for half the coal mined.

India underground mining

In India, there was hardly any underground coal mining, in sharp contrast to the 1970s, when all of the 70 million tonnes of coal produced annually was through underground mining.

Underground coal was of better quality, there were added environmental benefits, with less land required than surface mining, and the cost of restoring the land too, was not much.

He said the public sector’s progress on mechanisation was slow, while he expected the private sector to go in for greater mechanisation. Hargreaves Mining had signed an agreement for underground mining in India, he said, without providing details.

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