India’s Ministry of Coal has asked state-run mining firm Coal India to diversify its business and invest in areas such as electric vehicles (EVs) and charging stations.
In a document titled ‘Ministry of Coal’s agenda for 2021-22’, the ministry said: “Coal India must diversify its business and must explore prospects in sunrise industries electric charging pods, EVs, etc.”
Coal India currently accounts for more than 80% of coal production in India.
The ministry has also asked the firm to participate in overseas tenders seeking coal, following the meeting of domestic market demands.
The document stated: “Traders/coal consumers of the neighbouring countries can also participate in the Special Spot e-auction/Spot e-auction windows of Coal India.”
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Earlier, the mining firm had stated its intentions to invest in aluminium smelters, coal gasification, solar wafer manufacturing and power generation, and extraction of coal bed methane.
Considered the second-largest importer of coal in the world after China, India mainly imports coal from Australia, South Africa and Indonesia.
However, the country also holds the fourth-largest coal reserves in the world.
Currently, the country’s utilities are struggling for coal supplies as inventories have touched new lows following an increase in power demand from industries and tepid imports due to the record global prices.
As of the end of September, coal inventories have dropped to around 8.1 million tonnes at most of the country’s power plants. This is about 76% lower than a year ago, reported Bloomberg, citing government data.
Coal is used to generate approximately 70% of the power in the country. Just like China, India is facing two major challenges, namely increasing power demand, given that industrial activities have picked up following the lifting of pandemic restrictions, and a decline in domestic coal production.