XIX International Coal Preparation Congress(ICPC) is being held in India after a gap of 37 years. The 9th ICPC was held in New Delhi in1982. In these long 37 years the coal sector has witnessed many ups and downs. When the government was initiating economic reforms in early nineties this sector also saw some major changes in law which allowed coal mining to be done by companies other than Coal India and SCCL but only for captive use. In the initial years the demand from consuming sectors like power and steel was rather timid.
Even Coal India had to force government power companies to avoid refusal of supply. By the end of the decade the demand rose and a fresh attempt was made to widen the scope of private mining, but unfortunately due to pressure from labour unions this initiative remained suspended. In the early years of the new century the country suddenly felt the rising demand for power and the government very aptly brought in amendments to the Electricity Act allowing private sector to take up power projects.
The demand for coal rose exponentially and there was a mad rush to seek allotment of coal blocks. By 2007 coal distribution became an important issue and on the directions of the Supreme Court government formulated the New Coal Distribution Policy. There were clear signs of shortages in supply of coal to all the
consuming sectors. In most parts of the world coal is generally beneficiated before dispatching it for use but since the shortages were so pronounced that consumer willingly accepted ROM coal. This tendency resulted in avoidance of washing of coal despite several advantages to the consumers. It was only when the Ministry o f E n v ir o n m e n t p u t
restrictions on movement of coal with high ash content that importance of washing coal was realised. These norms notify by the Ministry o f E n v i r o n m e n t o n movement of coal have been modified and at present there is a general view that all coals leaving the mine lease area should be sized and have a GCV of at least 4500 Kcal/kg . To implement this there would be a huge requirement of washing facilities. We are at present in a situation where use of coal as a fuel for power plants will be on the decline, but requirement of better quality coal would see a slight increase in demand, both for use in more efficient power plants as well as in other diversified uses. Coal shortages in India are going to be prevalent for quite some time and government’s move to bring in commercial
mining would significantly help in fulfilling this shortage. Present circumstances therefore are begging for rapid expansion of washing facilities and we hope to see this happen soon. The XIX ICPC is being held in India at a very opportune time. The country is going to benefit immensely from the knowledge gained in the deliberation of the Congress. We are hoping that spread of technical know-how and knowledge of
various experiences would give the necessary boost to Coal Preparation in the country.