Indian state-run company Coal India will begin operations at five new coal mines and expand the capacity of at least 16 existing mines to help meet growing demand for the fossil fuel, the company’s chairman, P.M. Prasad, told reporters on Wednesday.

Anticipated record output from the company is set to boost coal inventories at power plants across the country by 16.1% year-on-year, hitting 40 million tonnes (mt) by the end of March, Prasad told Reuters.

The miner plans to start operations at five new mines, which will have a combined annual capacity of 14.3mt, in the next fiscal year, Prasad said.

The company stands as the world’s biggest coal miner and saw profits and share prices surge over the past year. It is finally on track to exceed production targets for the second year running, Prasad said, after falling short of output goals for 16 straight years.

Coal India is aiming to boost output by more than 7% for the coming fiscal year starting 1 April, hoping to end on a record 838mt. It holds initial stockpiles of 80mt, up more than 15% from the same period last year.

The miner has already awarded nine projects with a combined annual capacity of 83mt to private companies, with another two projects capable of producing 32mt expected to be awarded before the end of next month, Prasad said.

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The company is also looking to invest in lithium assets in Australia as India looks to boost supplies of critical minerals. “We are participating in exploration of lithium assets in Australia that are currently under development stage, and potential long-term assets,” Prasad said, adding that preliminary talks with Australian companies are ongoing but declined to give further details.

In November last year, India’s Government announced plans to triple production from its waning underground coal mines by 2028 to meet growing demand, a move aimed at reviving an industry that has been in decline for decades.

In May, Ministry of Coal also announced plans to produce more than one billion tonnes of coal between 2023 and 2024 after it revealed that India’s total coal production has increased by 47% over the past nine years, despite international calls to phase out the polluting fossil fuel altogether to meet global climate targets.

India’s relationship with coal has been complicated over the last year as the government flip-flopped between reducing capacity and expanding it. In January, the country’s energy ministry asked power companies to refrain from retiring coal-fired plants until at least 2030 to meet growing demand for electricity. In April, the country’s state-owned power company, NTPCannounced plans to expand coal operations to meet rising energy demand, sanctioning the construction of 4.5GW worth of coal plants across three locations.

Then, in June, the government announced a five-year pause on all new coal-fired power plant proposals as it moves to increase its renewable capacity. One month earlier, it had also announced plans to close 30 coal mines over the next three years to use the land for reforestation projects. Now it seems the need to meet demand outstrips immediate efforts to meet phase-out targets.