KOLKATA (miningweekly.com) - The Indian coal sector was looking to frame a policy for the use of low-grade coal rejects from coal washeries at thermal power plants to address the shortage of feedstock across the country.
An inter-Ministerial group comprising representatives from the Power, Coal and Environment Ministries, as well as the Planning Commission - the government’s apex policy advisory body - would be meeting later this week to ensure supplies of rejects and supplementary coal supplies to reject-based power plants.
Apart from demand for washery rejects, the group was expected to draw up allocations for supplementary coal supplies, as some of the boiler specifications for washery-based thermal plants required supplementary coal as feedstock, and these supplies had not been committed to the power plants by State company Coal India Limited (CIL).
According to information available to the Power Ministry, there were six washery-reject, coal-based thermal power plants in the country, and demand for supplementary coal supplies had been turned down by CIL as the company did not have any framework for providing supplementary coal to such plants without a fuel supply agreement.
However, a discussion paper circulated within the government indicated differences of opinions between the Power Ministry and CIL.
CIL has stated that rejects generated by washeries operated by CIL were either used by its own captive power plants or sold through e-auctions and could not be offered as assured supplies to other users.
In response, the Power Ministry maintained that CIL needed to provide projections of the total quantity of middlings and rejects generated by its coking and non-coking coal washeries over the next three years, and said that considering the acute shortage of domestic coal, CIL needed to supply to reject-based power plants, as these power plants were not in a position to secure supplies elsewhere, including from imports, given their relatively small size.
Making a case against supplementary raw coal supplies, CIL stated that, as rejects have the required calorific value for use in boilers, the power plants needed to be designed to be operated exclusively with rejects without requiring raw coal as supplementary feedstock.
The Power Ministry’s counterpoint was that the quality of rejects would be entirely dependent on the quality and characteristics of input coal and, as the whole objective of washing was to strip out least-quantity rejects and minimum-heat-content wastes, the gross calorific value (GCV) of CIL’s rejects would not be in range of 1 700 to 2 000 kilo cal/kg, as stated by CIL.
Under circumstances where GCV could be as low as 1 000 to 1 200 kilo cal/kg, the reject-based thermal power plants requirement of blending rejects with run-of-mine (RoM) coal was justifiable, the Power Ministry said in the discussion paper.
Since the quantity of supplementary supply of RoM coal required was small and would not exceed 0.55-million tonnes a year, CIL could consider the option of supplies at cost-plus basis from pit head stocks on as-is-where-is basis, the Power Ministry said in the note.