Mahanadi Coalfields to foray into power generation

Animesh Nandan Sahay, CMD, Mahanadi Coalfields Limited

Please tell us about Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL). How did the company come into being?

Mahanadi Coalfields Limited was carved out of South Eastern Coalfields Limited in 1992 with its headquarter at Sambalpur. It has its coal mines spread across Odisha including seven open cast mines and three underground mines under its fold. In 1992 we started our operations, so now the company is about 21 years old. When we started, our coal production was 23 million tonnes and last year we produced 108 million tonnes. So there has been consistent growth in last 21 years. In fact, we have been producing more than 100 million tonnes, since 2009-10 periods. This year we hope to do better. We have basically two coal fields- Talcher and IB valley coal fields. Future programme is very ambitious and we are likely to produce around 350 million tonnes of coal in coming 15-20 years. So we will be tripling our production. I don’t see any technical problem as such, except for the clearance problems. If the clearances are available in time, land issues are sorted out amicably, than I don’t see any problem in achieving 350 million tonnes of coal production. Infrastructure, that is to say evacuation part is also very important. We are opening new coal fields in different areas of the State.

In your opinion what are the key initiatives that have allowed MCL to grow consistently over the years?

In case of MCL the major operations are open cast, so mechanisation is possible. For that reason growth is faster. Off course, the quality of the coal may not be that good, but we are making it up with quantity. We are in fact constrained by infrastructure; getting land is a big problem, especially forest land. Most of the land that we have is either coal bearing, which means that we can’t have infrastructure on that land, or it is the forest land. Another problem is that there are more than 400 villages around the coal mines. Shifting of this village population is a major problem. Where do we shift them? We can easily triple our production in next 10 years, if all these infrastructure and land related issues get resolved, but that is quite difficult, so we will take around 15-20 years for achieving this goal. I would also like to tell you that in Odhisa we are the only company to have opened new mines consistently and to have expanded effectively. When I came here in 2011, there was a mine called Bhubuneswari, which used to produce only 3 million tonnes of coal. But this year, if we get environmental clearance, this mine will produce 25 million tonnes of coal.

Where you expect to see the company in future?

Tell us about your vision for MCL and the entire coal industry of India. Our core business will be coal mining. But we also want to be energy provider. We want to go for power generation. We also aim to enter into a joint venture with the Odisha government in power transmission. We already have some assets earmarked for us. So, we will be in power generation and transmission. Apart from these, we are in talks with Paradip Port authority about taking over some of their berths. They have already agreed to give us these facilities on a nominal basis. In railways, we own the 52 km line in Jhasuguda route. We are funding 1000 crore for this project. Once it comes up, it will be completely our own rail line and it will enhance coal production in Vasundhara. Also we are planning for another line again from Basundhara to Nagpur route. Meanwhile, we are also looking to change the internal transportation of coal. Emphasis will be more on transportation through silos. In a nutshell, I would like to tell you that our priority is power generation and transmission and also having our own berth in port.

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