Coal India Ltd, the world’s largest coal miner, on Thursday reported a 17.2 per cent rise in production of coking coal, helping cut on imports of the fuel that is an essential input for production of iron and steel.

In a statement, Coal India said coking coal production has risen to 54.6 million tonnes in 2022-23, up 17.2 per cent year-on-year growth compared to 46.6 million tonnes in FY’22 (April 2021 to March 2022).

“The quantum leap in the year was a whopping 8 million tonnes,” it said, adding the output was 107.3 per cent of the target.

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This assumes significance at a time when the Ministry of Coal has asked the company to raise the output of this category of coal to 105 million tonnes by 2030 in a bid to reduce its imports and forex outgo.

BCCL and CCL, the two Jharkhand-based subsidiaries of CIL, are major producers of coking coal and together accounted for almost the entire output of 54.3 million tonnes in 2022-23.

“BCCL alone produced nearly 62 per cent or 33.7 million tonnes during the year, posting 16 per cent growth over 29 million tonnes of FY’22. Whereas, CCL clocked around 20 per cent growth at 20.6 million tonnes,” it said.

Mineable reserves of coking coal, which is an important feedstock in steel making, in India are scarce. Also its quality inadequacy for direct use in steel making necessitates washing. This forces imports.

During FY’23 coking coal imports were 56 million tonnes, down by 1.1 million tonnes compared to 57.1 million tonnes in FY’22.

Apart from the meagre availability, Indian coking coal has high ash content requiring washing for use in steel mills.

“CIL has set out a roadmap to produce 12 million tonnes per annum of washed coking coal by 2030 with ash content between 18-19 per cent and about 1.4 million tonnes per annum at 14 per cent ash,” the statement said.

“In a push towards this, CIL has commissioned 2 new coking coal washeries and renovated 3 older versions. It also plans to add 9 more new washeries, at an investment of around Rs 4,000 crores, of which few will replace the aged ones,” it added.

The company currently operates 11 coking coal washeries.

CIL’s raw coking coal feed to washeries in FY’23 improved by 27 per cent to 6.1 million tonnes from 4.8 million tonnes in FY’22.

During this period, production of washed coking coal jumped to about 2.15 million tonnes compared to 1.6 million tonnes of FY’22 posting 34 per cent growth. Both the performance parameters were at six year high.

“Increased exploration of coking coal, opening of new mines, improved efficiency and expansion of the existing mines, reviving discontinued coking coal mines on a revenue sharing basis will provide a boost for raising coking coal production.

“Coupled with increased washing capacity as planned, imports can be reduced to an extent,” said a senior official of CIL. PTI ANZ DRR