Enhancing Production of Coal
The Coal sector in India has continued to remain vital and of fundamental importance for the growth of Indian economy. India is on the path of rapid growth. High economic growth and increased economic activities would create much larger demand for energy and predominantly of coal.
Indian Coal sector during post nationalization period has seen tremendous growth in production and productivity. Coal India Limited (CIL), a state owned coal company and the single largest coal producer in the world, has focused on excellence in technological advancements. This includes use of underground and opencast mining equipment, eco-friendly mining concept, introduction of satellite surveillance, e-marketing of coal and awareness on quality front. It has adopted best mining practices that take into consideration environmental-forestry-societal well being.
Innovation to optimize the available coal resources has been the key strategy of the Ministry of Coal. The thrust areas for development of coal sector include opening up new mega underground and open cost projects in potential coalfields. Not only large scale deployment of clean fuel technologies, but also use of modern techniques like GPS, remote sensing, satellite surveillance etc.are being adopted for effective resource management. Cost reduction measures through deployment of modern techniques are also being implemented to remain cost-competitive against international volatility in coal prices.
Pursuant to nationalization of coal sector in 1972-73 and subsequent formation of Coal India Limited in November, 1975, Indian coal sector has witnessed a growth in production from a level of 70 million tonnes (1973-74) to a level of 533.07 million tonnes in 2010-11, with Coal India’s contribution of about 431.32 million tonnes, representing a share of 81%. The underground & opencast production shared a ratio of 75:25 in 1974-75. Over a period of almost 37 years, the trend in coal production has undergone a drastic change with opencast mines contributing to 90% of the total coal production while a meagre 10% is extracted from underground mines. Overall labour productivity, referred to as “Output per Manshift” (OMS) in mining parlance, has reached a level of 4.73 T (2010-11) from 0.58 T reported in 1974-75. The underground productivity has mostly remained stagnant over last 5 years, hovering in the range of 0.70 – 0.77 from a level of around 0.55 – 0.60 T in the early 80’s. The productivity of the opencast mines at the early stage of technological development in 80’s was of the order of 0.76 – 1.20 T which has subsequently attained a level of 10.06 T in 2010-11, largely because of higher degree of technical advancement and deployment of HEMM of higher configuration. It is, therefore, imperative that sluggish growth in underground productivity calls for some measure of technological advancement with our ability to innovate the same to suit to our specific geo-mining conditions.
The opencast mines in India usually deploy shovel-Dumper combination of various configurations. Measures like upgradation and standardization of HEMM namely, upgradation of dumpers of various sizes ranging from 35T to the standard 60 T, 100 T, 190 T and 240 T and standardization of Electric Rope shovels to 5 m3, 10 m3 and 42 m3 have been our decision in the recent past. Apart from the above, higher capacity Crawler Dozers of 850 HP have been inducted in Mega opencast mines of CIL. Gradual introduction of such higher capacity HEMM, which are technically advanced, introduction of Maintenance practices have resulted in overall improvement in productivity, which in turn have vastly improved profitability of mines of CIL.
Smaller mines have been amalgamated to form bigger capacity projects to enhance the life of the mine with enhanced production and productivity. Productivity improvement does not mean taking care of the various measures, as suggested above only. It also needs to be ensured that the equipment introduced and the skilled manpower deployed is able to perform uninterruptedly. Recent experience of introduction of large size equipment in some of the mega size open-cast mines has shown that non-availability of sufficient land and or obstruction in their operation results in effective utilization, thereby reducing their productivity. It is, therefore, necessary to create a situation, which is socially acceptable for application of any technology.
An ILO analysis of labour markets shows that skills development is central to improving productivity. Effective skills development systems – which connect education to technical training. HRD wing of Coal Indian is entrusted with the great responsibility of upgradation of technical and managerial skill of employees, both executives and non-executives.
CIL has organized HRD infrastructure comprising Technical Training Institutes, Management Training Institutes and Vocal Training Centres at subsidiary level and Indian Institute of Coal Management for organising In-company training. Employees are frequently nominated to attend training organized by other renowned Professional institutes within India and abroad. Annual training plan for each subsidiary is formulated and training target is set under MOU with the Government every year. Importance is being attached to Formal Training on Project Management and Training of Medical professionals on Occupational Health. New areas like new technology and IT, Contract Management and Awareness on sustainable Development etc. have touched upon to groom the necessary training for upgradaiton of skill. Unskilled and semiskilled workers and contractor’s labourers are attending training at Vocational Training Centre at subsidiary companies. Safety training is another important aspect which is statutory for an industry like mining and is given due weight-age.
It is felt that women empowerment is critical for productivity enhancement and their participation should be encouraged in the development process. The strength of female employees in CIL is around 28000 out of total manpower of 375851 (as on 1.11.2011). There are instances in various mines of Coal India where female employees have been trained to work as Switch Board attendants, Shovel and drill operators, telephone operators etc. and are leading role models with their performance.
Role of enhancing productivity is vital for the Indian coal sector. Advanced technology, sophisticated training programs and skill development programs are now considered to be the best possible measures to improve production, productivity and in turn the profitability. The productivity improvement in the coal sector depends not only on the resources, but on many other factors such as improving policy guidelines, development of environmentally acceptable technologies, and exploitation of the available energy resources with adequate attention towards commercial viability, which are now focus points of the agenda.