NEW DELHI: Amid a crushing coal crunch, India’s largest electricity producer NTPC is looking at ramping up Black Diamond production by 86% to 26 million tonnes (mt) from its captive mines in the current financial year, even as the power ministry has raised the requirement of domestic coal for the sector by 10% to 742 millions tonnes.
The mining growth trajectory set by the country’s single-largest coal consumer is driven by a greater emphasis on captive miners in the power ministry’s fuel demand estimate. Captive miners have been given a target of producing 120 mt in the current financial year, which is 43% more than almost 84 mt of coal in 2021-22.
NTPC will now have to bear the cross of its ambitious coal production target, which will account for 21% of supplies earmarked from captive miners. The company consumed 225 mt of coal in 2021-22, produced 14 mt of the fuel from three mines it had put into operation in the last few years.
If the company succeeds in achieving the coal production target, it will meet 10% of its coal requirement from own mines. That may enable it to reduce costly imports or use of expensive rail-cum-road transportation modes.
While the coal ministry has indicated it has enough fuel stock to build up inventories at power plants for the rainy season, much will depend on the ability of the railways to provide 453 rakes per day for transportation, the coal ministry has informed the power ministry. The daily availability stands at 415-420 rakes at present.
In a related development, domestic coal production rose 36% to almost 34 mt in the first half of May from a year ago. Total coal dispatch rose nearly 16% to 37 mt during the period.
Transportation emerged as a key bottleneck in shoring up coal supply to power plants when electricity demand spiked in the April-May period due to an early and searing onset of summer as well as a strong rebound on economic activities.