We want to give a brief overview on the current scope of coal mining and consumption in India. In 2009, India (526 million tonnes) was the third biggest hard coal producer after China (2,971 Mt) and the USA (919Mt). 85 per cent of coal is produced by Coal India Limited (CIL), the world largest coal mining company, currently employing around 380,000 permanent workers and running around 500 mines in India. Around 55 per cent of energy production in India stems from coal, compared to around 3 per cent from nuclear energy. Around 75 per cent of total coal stock is consumed by the energy sector. Global market prices for coking coal increased by 70 per cent during 2010 – the regime in India is forced to import coal for energy production and at the same time put more pressure on production costs ‘at home’. Production costs in India are 35 per cent higher compared to Australia, Indonesia or South Africa, which is not due to higher wages, but lower out-put productivity. The Coal India Ltd. subsidiary SCCL claimed in 2010 that wage costs account for 44 per cent of total production costs. The average mechanised mine in India had an out-put of 3.8 tons per man-shift in 2008, while manual mines operate on levels of 0.4 tonnes. In comparison, the United Colliery in Australia reports to achieve an output per man shift of 65 tonnes. In order to increase productivity there is a shift towards large scale open pit mining. In 2005 around 80 per cent of coal production in India came from open-cast mining, this compares to 20 per cent in 1971. The underground production declined from 50.56 to 43.54 million tonnes during the period 2001 to 2008. The imports of coal increased rapidly over the last three years, from 59 million tonnes in 2008-9 to 73 million tonnes in 2009-10 to 84 million tonnes in 2010-11. There is also a significant increase in direct investment of steel manufacturing companies from India in coal mining companies in the US, Africa and Australia, while CIL in turn outsources whole open-cast mines to international companies and companies previously only engaged in transport and logistics. Total coal production in India
1945 30 Mt
1972 72 Mt
1979 89 Mt
1992 200 Mt (by Coal India Limited alone)
2001 345 Mt (by Coal India Limited alone)
2011 526 Mt (out of which 430 Mt by Coal India Limited)
Estimated official work-force before nationalisation
Permanent workers at CIL
IIa. The Dhanbad-Jharia coal-mining area
Dhanbad coal fields are situated in the state of Jharkhand in the East of India, neighbouring West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. The Dhanbad-Jharia area forms part of a mineral rich corridor, most of India’s reserves in coal, copper, iron ore and uranium are located in the Durgapur-Dhanbad-Bokaro-Jamshedpur triangle. Industrial coal mining started in the second half of the 19th century, subsequently both steel manufacturing and power generation came up in the region. Bokaro is known as India’s steel city, location of India’s biggest steel plant, and currently major investment hub for ArcelorMittal and other multinationals. The steel industry attracted manufacturing industries. After having set-up their steel plant in 1907, Tata opened their truck plant in Jamshedpur in 1945 . In 1952 Nehru opened the Sidri fertilizer plant, which he called ‘temple of development’ and which became the symbol of ‘independent’ India’s industrial 5-years plan regime and cornerstone of the Green Revolution . Up to the early 1980s around one fifth of India’s total public infrastructure and industrial investment went to this ‘Ruhr Area’ of India. The mining and industrial clusters are surrounded by agriculturally backward and jungle-dominated areas. The ‘local’ population in these areas belong to the poorest rural sections in India. They have become important bases for the Maoist armed struggle.
The Dhanbad-Jharia coal fields...