NTPC records 148% growth in coal production from its mines compared to April last year: Power ministry

NTPC recorded 23.2 million tonnes of coal production last financial year (FY) 2023 against 14.02 million tonnes of FY 2022  

By Seema Prasad
Published: Wednesday 03 May 2023
Coal mining in Jharia, Jharkhand. Photo: iStock

India’s largest power-producing public sector undertaking under the Union Ministry of Power (MoP), National Thermal Power Corporation, has reported a record production of 2.75 million metric tonnes (MMT) this April against 1.11 MMT last April, according to a recent press release by MoP.

This translates to a 148 per cent growth in coal production from NTPC’s four operational coal mines, namely NTPC Pakri-Barwadih (Jharkhand), NTPC Chatti Bariatu (Jharkhand), NTPC Dulanga (Odisha) and NTPC Talaipalli (Chhattisgarh).

NTPC registered a despatch volume of 2.95 MMT in April 2023 in terms of the coal supplied to the country (which includes earlier stock) against 1.23 MMT reported in the month of April 2022. This was a 140 per cent increase in coal despatch volume compared to last year.

Overall, NTPC recorded 23.2 million tonnes of coal production last financial year (FY) 2023 against 14.02 million tonnes of FY 2022, clocking in a whooping growth of 65 per cent.

The launch of auctioning of coal mines for commercial mining in June 2020 is behind this, according to Nivit Yadav, programme director of the Industrial Pollution Unit at Delhi-based thinktank Centre for Science and Environment.

In its seventh round of auctioning after allowing the private sector into the coal mining industry, the Ministry of Coal has put up 103 coal or lignite blocks for auction, and agreements for 23 mines have been signed from the sixth round, which are expected to generate annual revenue of Rs 4,700.80 crores and generate employment to  44,906 people.

During FY 2023-24, it expected that 25 coal mines will be allocated for commercial mining, according to a press release by the Mininstry of Coal on May 3.

“While these numbers might seem stupendous, they could reflect the amount of coal expansion pursued independently by NTPC over the last two years. Previously, it was totally dependent on Coal India Limited (CIL) for coal supply and still continues the practice, except now they have their own mines to access. When coal mine auctioning was opened for private enterprises, NTPC was rightly one of the companies to get into the coal mining industry two years ago,” Yadav explained to Down to Earth.

Kanti Bhattacharya, director (Projects) of NTPC said in an interview that NTPC’s installed capacity was over 69 gigawatts (GW) in September 2022 and that one of the priority areas is the “expansion of operational coal mines and commencement of coal production from new coal mines”.

According to a press release by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in December 2022, 408.71 GW is the country’s total installed capacity. Of these, 234 GW was sourced from fossil fuels (coal, lignite, gas, and diesel), and 172.72 GW was sourced from renewable energy. Yadav hence cautioned against confusing the production of NTPC for the country’s cumulative power capacity.

Greater utilisation of mining capacities of private coal blocks has led to an increase in production of coal by 17.52 per cent to 9.88 MT in April 2023 as compared to 8.41 MT in April 2022, the MoP stated.

Just like NTPC, CIL reported production of 57.57 MT in April 2023 as compared to 53.47 MT in April 2022, representing an increase of 7.67 per cent, according to the MoP.

Every year, February and March record low coal production and offtake, whereas April always sees a peak, Yadav added, indicating this was just following the trend witnessed every year.

According to an analysis by Reuters, India’s power generation grew the fastest last fiscal year compared to the pace observed in over three decades due to heat heatwaves and post-Covid economic rebound. The analysis said coal output from fossil sources rose by 11.2 per cent, which was the fastest rate of growth seen over the last thirty years, said the analysis.

This is because India plans to increase coal production to 1.2 billion tonnes by 2023-24 through various revenue-generating mechanisms, either through single window clearances, rolling auctions and sharing revenues, Union Minister of Coal Pralhad Joshi said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha in February. 

However, 5.86 of 210.6 GW coal and lignite-based thermal power plants are non-operational without Power Purchase Agreements and other reasons, the MNRE minister shared in a written reply to Lok Sabha in December 2022.

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