Report: APP CMHS Project 1




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2.4.1. Overview

Indian GDP growth is aimed at an increase of 7 to 8 % annually and this requires a quantum growth in energy supply. Coal plays a key role in the Indian energy supply, representing 53 % of India’s energy consumption in 2007.

Since nationalisation of coal mines in 1971 coal production has increased from 75 Mt to 425 Mt in 2005-06 and 492.95 Mt in 2007-08. As per the Coal Vision - 2025 prepared by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi, coal production is expected to increase to 781.5 Mt by 2016-17 and 1267 Mt by 2024-25. The Government of India forecasts that coal demand for the power utilities alone would be 550 Mt by 2011-12, even more than 412 Mt predicted in the Coal Vision 2025. The coal demand forecast in the Coal Vision – 2025 is shown in Table 5.

Table 5 Coal demand forecast (in million tonnes)

Consumer

Period


2006-07

20011-12

2016-17

2021-22

2024-25

Growth rate

7 %

7 %

8 %

7 %

8 %

7 %

8 %

7 %

8 %

Power Utilities

317

412.6

427.16

517.3

552.5

635.46

698.53

718.94

804.0

Power captives

28.26

43.26

44.33

59.89

62.96

83.5

90.04

101.93

111.6

Steel

42.7

53.14

54.24

66.57

69.47

83.87

89.52

96.54

104.50

Cement

25.4

38.4

39.39

58.18

61.06

88.16

94.12

113.13

123.47

Bricks and Others

59.82

63.52

64.51

79.57

82.11

100.7

105.62

116.54

123.41

Total

473.18

611.45

629.63

781.52

828.81

991.7

1078.54

1147.54

1267.01

Data source – Coal Vision 2025

Coal mining has been developing in India since 1774. Currently, India produces over 400 million tonnes of coal each year from an economic recoverable reserve of 92 Gt. This accounts for eight percent of the world’s coal production making it the third largest coal producer in the world after China and the US.

Underground coal mining in India is completely dominated by government owned coal companies. There has been a consistent decline in underground coal production over the years with more emphasis on open cast mining. However, with the increase in coal demand and growing awareness of sustainable development, the coal industry has recently increased production from underground coal mines. Growth has occurred in all government owned underground coal mines and has been driven partly by the introduction of new technology. The industry aims to increase total coal production from underground mines from 15 % to 30 % by 2030.

Particular technology improvements include: increasing the level of mechanisation, introduction of state-of-the-art machines, and ensuring their optimal utilisation. The challenges in underground mechanisation for increased production and productivity with safety are:

  • machine utilisation, inventory management

  • reduction in cost due to accidents through improved health and safety standards

  • improved work culture, and discipline through efficient management

  • training of workforce for underground mechanisation

  • application of research and development for scientific exploitation.

There are nine states in India with underground coal mining operations – Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttarpradesh, Maharshtra and Andhra Pradesh (Figure 12). Within these states there are 350 underground mines producing approximately 61 Mt per annum from depths typically up to 600 m. Mining methods include:

  • bord and pillar (including pillar extraction)

  • fully mechanised - continuous miner and shuttlecar (9)

  • semi mechanised - blasting and loading (212)

  • conventional manual (113)

  • longwall (8).

Figure 12 Indian coalfields

With such a large industry it is to be expected that all of the major hazard environments are in existence in one mine/region or another – the hazards of gas, fire, explosion, inundation, strata failure, spontaneous combustion and vehicle interaction are specified. However, the major mining hazards are strata failure (roof and rib), water inrush and spontaneous combustion; with machinery accidents increasing in more recent times.

For the next decade, Indian coal production will predominantly come from the consolidation of operations (in terms of size, production and technology) in the mines owned by the State, and new surface mines in the green field sites allotted to private companies. The major proportion of coal production will still be from surface mining with most surface mines operating at 5.0 Mtpa.

The dominance of surface coal mining is still predicted for the next decade. Mining equipment such as draglines with a 45-55 m3 bucket and a 100 m or greater dumping radius, 40-55 m3 shovels with 240/320 t dump trucks will be standard equipment for surface mines that will produce 20 Mt annually per mine.

In the case of underground mines it is predicted that by 2017 the current operations of manual, semi-mechanised and mechanised coal mines will move towards 100 % mechanised operations. This will increase the average annual production from 0.156 Mt to 0.4 Mt at an underground coal mine by 2017. Key improvements required in underground mines include the introduction of continuous miners with mechanised drilling and roof bolting systems, and longwall mining systems wherever geological conditions are suitable.

The trend of mining accidents is decreasing, mainly due to the current shift towards surface mining and away from underground mining. However the continuing regular occurrences of inundation disasters in underground mines are a major concern. At least five disasters in the past 6 years are due to inundation. In addition, the recent Bhatdih coal mine explosion claimed about 50 lives. A recent accident trend analysis shows that smaller accidents that resulted in the deaths of less than four persons have mainly been due to roof falls in underground mines and dumpers in surface mines.

The projected increase in coal production and the current status of the underground coal mining safety performance pose significant challenges to the Indian coal industry. Increased hazards in the future underground mining are summarised as follows:

Quantum increase in coal production means that the number of mines and employees will increase significantly and, as a result, a greater pressure on the current mine safety management processes. There is a case to change from the prescriptive statutory enforcement mechanisms to more risk based pro-active mine safety management and enforcement systems such as those practiced in Australia.

Hazards associated with complex geological and geotechnical conditions will increase with the depth of mining. In addition, mining adjacent to old workings that could be flooded with water or experiencing heatings poses significantly safety risks.

Hazards associated with introduction of new technologies or mining equipment will increase. Present statutory provisions may require amendments. Work procedures and training programmes for the workforce will need to be developed accordingly.

Occupational hazards such as musculoskeletal disorders, noise induced hearing losses, inhalation of diesel particulates etc will increase with the increased level of mechanisation and will need also to be managed.


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