State-run miner Coal India Ltd is emphasising on "quick" and "swift" exploitation of the domestic fossil fuel reserves in order to meet future demand and reduce imports, an official said here on Thursday.
"The large planned new coal based thermal capacity is likely to put pressure on coal resources," the company's newly appointed interim Chairman Gopal Singh said while addressing the shareholders at the 43rd Annual General meeting.
"Coal based power generation capacity of 125 gigawatt in 2012 is likely to go up to more than 330-441 GW by 2040 (192 GW in FY 2017)."
"The demand for these plants is likely to be first met by domestic coal, which will require quick exploitation of our reserves," Singh said.
He said coal production increased in the last three years substantially, resulting in reduction in imports and foreign exchange savings of Rs 25,900 crore.
"Import dependence in oil and gas is understandable given the poor reserves we have but import dependence on coal particularly non coking coal is something that can be addressed by swift exploitation of domestic coal reserves," he said.
According to him, imports contributed 25 per cent of coal supply in 2015-16 and 23 per cent in 2016-17.
"This could remain high unless domestic coal production grows rapidly," he said, adding that the country is well-endowed with coal as seven per cent of the world's proven reserves are located in India.
The demand for coal is expected to go up, he said.
"During August, the coal based thermal power generation grew 17 per cent, while hydel power generation has a 12 per cent negative growth, nuclear power generation registered 36 per cent negative growth. This trend will continue. Coal sector has come up," Singh said.
The share of coal in India's commercial primary energy supply was 55 per cent in 2015-16 and is expected to remain high at 48-54 per cent in 2040, he said.
Stressing that the miner needs to step up to a double digit growth rate in order to meet the production targets, he said the company produced 554.14 million tonnes of coal in 2016-17 and raw coal off-take was 543.32 million tonnes in the last financial year.
Speaking on the diversification programmes, Singh said: "We have many initiatives which are in the pipeline. We are working on it."
Betting on the "core competency" in mining, the coal behemoth was intending to foray into metal mining of iron ore, bauxite, copper and nickel.
A Coal India official said: "We want to enter into metal mining like iron ore, bauxite and also plan to acquire some mines... do mining activities abroad in the field of copper and nickel."
Asked whether Coal India is planning to become a bigger mining company, Singh said: "We will. Let it be worked out."
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