Government-owned Coal India, described by CleanTechnica as the world’s biggest coal producer, has announced plans to close 37 mines it no longer considers economically viable.
The mines will shut down in March 2018, the company advised the Bombay Stock Exchange earlier this month. “At a review meeting with the coal major and its subsidiaries, the coal ministry has found out that a sizeable number of mines are unable to recover the salary of workers,” The Telegraph reported at the time. “Accordingly, the miner was asked to conduct a detailed study of such mines and report the action taken regarding them.”
“The identified surplus manpower from these mines would be gainfully redeployed in nearby mine areas,” Coal India said in its filing.
“While underground mines have their own set of constraints and hurdles which significantly increase the cost of production, increased competition from renewable energy technologies, where fuel cost is nil, could also be a contributing factor,” CleanTechnica notes.
Last month, India announced it was cancelling 14 gigawatts of new coal generation in response to “free-falling” solar costs. CleanTechnica says Coal India is now expected to install at least a gigawatt of its own solar capacity in the near future, and chronicles the rapidly-falling cost of both solar and wind generation.
Meanwhile, a report last week by the Natural Resources Defense Council concludes that India’s solar and wind industries could create more than 300,000 jobs over the next five years, including 45,000 in solar module manufacturing, though the country is likely to fall short of the aggressive new capacity targets that would drive the employment numbers. NRDC sees rooftop solar achieving the highest “employment coefficient”, creating 24.7 job-years per megawatt installed, compared to 3.45 and 1.27 job-years for ground-mounted solar and wind projects.
“Officials of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy themselves have acknowledged that the capacity targets are quite ambitious,” notes West Bengal-based blogger Saurabh Mahapatra. “Still, whatever India could add would definitely break records, nationally and globally. A significant number of jobs would be created, even if not as many as estimated in the report.”