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mjunction’s 14th Indian Coal Markets Conference begins

Kolkata, December 17: The two-day 14th Indian Coal Markets Conference organised by mjunction services limited got off to a virtual start today, under the theme “Indian Coal: Reignited.”

The conference has been planned to delve deep into the ramifications of India’s maiden auction of coal mines for commercial usage, and what it means for the Indian coal sector in general.

The conference is being attended by more than 450 participants from all over the world, and will be addressed by key industry leaders, experts and policymakers over two days.

The inaugural session, titled “The Big Picture,” took an objective look into the journey of Indian coal in the last one year, some key takeaways and the road ahead for global coal.

Delivering the welcome address, mjunction MD & CEO Mr Vinaya Varma said, “Our theme for last year’s conference was Self-Sufficiency: Need of the Hour. The steady rise in demand and thereby imports at that point called for corrective action. While the entire scenario changed with the sudden dip in demand with the nationwide lockdown, the historic and hugely successful coal block auctions in November has added yet another dimension to this demand-supply scenario. While it is just the first step towards self-sufficiency, it opens up numerous other exciting possibilities such as dynamic pricing, a new distribution mode, exchange-based trading, coal exports, gasification and many more. And that is why we zeroed in on this year’s theme as we step into a new era in the Indian energy sector.”

In his keynote address, Mr M Nagaraju, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Coal, Govt of India, said, “The government is trying to put in a mechanism for faster operationalisation of mines. We had auctioned 98 blocks of which 33 are operational, and in November we auctioned 19 more blocks. So the task before the government and the allottees is to come together in a coordinated and harmonious manner to operationalise these mines as fast as possible. This is the only way to reduce imports and prevent foreign exchange expenditure.”

Mr S N Tiwary, Director (Marketing), Coal India Ltd, said, “Coal India would continue to remain the largest supplier with consistency.” He said Coal India has put in place a strategy to reduce coal imports. “Despite the heterogeneity of coal if we can address the heat requirement of coal users then they will definitely come back to Indian coal and for that we have imposed certain steps like going in a big way to go for first-mile connectivity where coal would be directly put into wagons from mines. This first-mile connectivity will help avoid contamination during the movement of coal,” he said.

Mr Vinay Prakash, Director, Adani Enterprises Ltd, CEO-Natural Resources, said the recently concluded commercial mine auction will not only help state governments get higher revenues but it will give a signal to the exporting countries that they need to be competitive. “It’s time when we need to understand that any mining company which is there either in India or abroad needs to be in a low cost curve,” he said.

Mr V R Sharma, MD, JSPL said in order to graduate to a gas-based economy by 2030, as declared by the Prime Minister, the country needs to gasify the coal. “We are the only company in the world that is converting coal to gas for DRI (Direct Reduced Iron) applications to make steel. We buy coal from Coal India, wash it and gasify it and producing 225 tons DRI per hour and intend to set up another DRI plant.” Mr Sharma called for One Nation One power tariff. “High and multiple power tariffs are hurting Indian industry,” he said. For this Coal India needs to bring down prices of coal, he said.

Mr Bill Sullivan, Sr Foreign Counsel, Christian Teo & Partners, said that to secure a bright future for coal, mining law reforms are needed citing Indonesian experience. “Indonesia is prioritising coal downstream projects through mining law reform by making extension of mining contracts linked to integrated coal development and downstreaming projects like gasification and liquefaction,” he said.