KOLKATA (miningweekly.com) - The Deocha-Pachami coal block, in the east Indian state of West Bengal, which is billed as the largest single-location reserve in Asia, is likely to be developed by the state government in collaboration with mining majors in Poland.
Several rounds of talks have been held over the past month between officials of India’s federal Coal Ministry, the state government of West Bengal and senior Polish officials, wherein the government of Poland reiterated the offer of technology, mining solutions and high technology specialized equipment for developing the block with an estimated 2-billion tons of high grade coal reserve.
The joint development of Deocha-Pachami block by the West Bengal government and Polish miners was in the wake of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed last month between Poland’s Energy Ministry and India’s Coal Ministry.
The MoU was followed by meetings between Poland’s Energy Ministry Grzegorz Tobiszowski and West Bengal Power and Non-Conventional Energy Minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, wherein details of the Polish companies participation in the project, ranging from exploration of the block to development of underground mining and production, were discussed in details.
Of significance was the offer of underground mining technology and equipment from Polish companies, which are regarded as global leaders in the sector, since underground mining in India has been on the wane with miner Coal India Limited closing down unviable underground mines, resulting in the unavailability of domestic equipment suppliers.
The Coal Ministry last year awarded the Deocha-Pachami block to West Bengal Power Development Corporation (WBPDCL). However, up until recently, the problem faced by the West Bengal government was the optimal development of and production from the coal block, since thermal power plants under the state government would not require the entire volume of coal that could be optimally extracted from the block and captive miners were not allowed merchant sale of the production.
The Indian government earlier this year began permitting captive coal miners free sale and free pricing of 25% of production from the mine, however, WBPDCL was not in a position to develop the asset to maximise production and increase viability with an additional revenue stream from such free sale of part production, state government officials said.
Polish mining companies that envisage partnering with the West Bengal government in developing Deocha-Pachami include Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa SA, a major European coking coal producer, JSW Innowacje SA, a mining technology solutions provider, PeBeKa SA, specialists in mining infrastructure projects and FAMUR, the largest mining equipment manufacturer in Poland.