India’s coal demand may more than triple in the next two decades as Asia’s second-fastest growing major economy seeks the fuel to generate electricity and run steel, cement plants.

The nation may consume more than 2 billion metric tons of coal by 2030, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said in New Delhi at the 3rd Coal Summit. India produces 530 million tons of the fuel a year and imports about 67 million tons annually. The South Asian country has coal reserves of about 277 billion tons, he said.

Coal currently fires 53 percent of installed power generation capacity in India and the government expects the fuel to remain the most important source of energy for the country. India and neighbor China may become the dominant importers of coal during the next 10 years, displacing Western nations, according to Deutsche Bank AG.

The nation’s coal output is expected to rise to 1 billion tons a year in the next eight to nine years, according to Jaiswal. That’s 30 percent of China’s estimated annual production this year.

State-owned Coal India Ltd., the world’s biggest producer of the fuel, plans to buy mines in Indonesia, Australia, South Africa and the U.S., Jaiswal said in a statement.
Coal India mines most of India’s proven reserves of about 110 billion tons and the country’s deposits are expected to last for more than 100 years, according to Jaiswal.
India’s coal purchases from overseas are expected to grow to 200 million tons by March 2016 from 80 million tons planned in the year ending March 2011, Partha Bhattacharyya, chairman of Coal India, said at the conference.

Rising demand in India may drive up international coal prices, said Bhattacharyya. The government plans to sell a 10 percent stake in Coal India in an initial public offer next month.

Coal is used to fire 87,858 megawatts of India’s installed capacity of 164,509 megawatts as of Aug. 31, according to the Central Electricity Authority.
On the other hand, Finance minister is in favor of a balanced approach on the tribal’s displacement issue relating to mining projects and said that the solution did not lie in calling an outright halt to the projects.

Mukherjee at the Coal Summit said that “Answer does not lie in the companies stopping mining activities. Answer lies in providing alternatives to those displaced... in what form we can compensate them and make them beneficiary of economic development.”

He said that “'We are addressing this issue. According to the GoM’s proposal 26% of the net profit from mining projects should go to the displaced tribals and other affected locals but differences in the government remain.”

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