India’s Transition to Sustainable Mining Will Depend on Adoption of key Technologies

Coal Ministry’s call for adoption of advanced technologies in the coal mining industry answered by players like Coal India and Adani Group in their coal mine operations in India

Highlighting the challenges faced by the coal mining industry when it comes to adoption of new technologies, the Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Coal, M Nagaraja, called for a seamless collaboration between research organizations and the industry. Although India’s coal mining industry is the second-largest in the world, producing 715.95MT in FY 2020-21, it is beset with old practices and outdated technology that hinder efficiency.

The words from the Ministry of Coal come at a time when sustainable mining has become the watchword for many mining companies as the world becomes more environment-conscious. Its vision has been replicated by players like Coal India and Adani Group in their coal mine projects in India.

Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI), Coal India’s research and technical arm, has secured authorization to use drones for aerial coalfield survey. Although the permission for such surveys has been granted, the resurgent COVID wave has temporarily suspended operations.

The Adani Group is another organization that has successfully incorporated state-of-the-art technology to its mining operations in a bid to foster sustainable mining. The Adani Group’s coal mine operation in India is primarily focused on the Chhattisgarh coal blocks.

Mining operation in the Parsa East and Kanta Basan (PEKB) coal block has been interspersed with green initiatives that use advanced tree transplanting technology to relocate trees as a part of its sustainable mining program.

This has resulted in more than 140,000 native plants being replanted in over 50 Ha of land, which includes reclaimed land post mining activities. Uma Shankar, Senior VP, Adani Group, India Coal Mining, stressed on the inclusion of technology to ensure sustainable mining practices. The latter is, in fact, at the core of Adani Group’s coal mine project in Chhattisgarh.

Given that over half a million people are employed by the coal mining sector and another 10-15 million are indirect beneficiaries, it is impossible to separate the coal industry from India’s economic growth. The best way forward is to revolutionize the coal mining industry and introduce modern practices and technology which will not only boost productivity but also contribute to sustainable mining.

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