India’s Ministry of Coal has unveiled its intention to further reduce the import of high-capacity mining equipment to strengthen domestic production.

The efforts are in line with India’s objectives of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ (‘Self-reliant India’) and promote ‘Make in India’.

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State-owned mining giant Coal India (CIL) imports equipment including continuous miners equipment, crawler dozers, drills, dumpers, electric rope shovels, front-end loaders wheel dozers, hydraulic shovels and motor graders.

CIL incurs Rs35bn ($425.4m) on the imports and an additional Rs10bn is paid as customs duty. Hence, a plan has been proposed to phase out its imports in the next five-to-six years.

The coal ministry is encouraging the development of domestic manufacturing capabilities. Some of the machines are currently under trial procurement from domestic manufacturers.

The ministry has formed an interdisciplinary high-level committee with members representing the BEML, Caterpillar, Gainwell, Ministry of Heavy Industries, Ministry of Railways, NLC India, NTPC, Singareni Collieries Company, Tata Hitachi and West Bengal Power Development Corporation.

Industry associations and several other stakeholders are being consulted for suggestions on ways to boost the domestic manufacture of heavy earth-moving machinery and underground mining equipment such as high wall miners, continuous miners, high-capacity miners, hydraulic shovels and dumpers.

CIL has issued guidelines to undertake mining equipment standardisation. The standardised machines will be deployed wherever domestically manufactured machines are put to coal production, transportation and monitoring without productivity being affected.

In a press note, the ministry said: “Promotion of indigenous capabilities of equipment shall also ensure reduction in breakdown period of imported equipment, which remains under prolonged breakdown due to non-availability of spares.

“Furthermore, collaborations and joint ventures with internationally reputed equipment manufacturers need to be encouraged. Utilisation of non-functional and under-utilised government infrastructure facilities like MAMC and Jessops may be explored under ‘Make in India’ initiatives.”