Coal and Mining Sector

What Grade of Coal does India Produce?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Coal Gradation, Coal reserves in India, Imports etc

Why in the News?

  • A report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project suggests Adani Group claimed ‘low grade’ coal imported from Indonesia to be ‘high quality’ coal.
    • They inflated its value and sold it to Tamil Nadu’s power generation company, TANGEDCO (Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Company).

Coal Gradation in India

  • These terms are relative and depend on the coal’s Gross Calorific Value (GCV denoted in kilo-calories per kg), which indicates its energy generation potential. Higher GCV denotes better quality coal.
  1. High-Grade (GCV > 7,000 kcal/kg) to
  2. Low-Grade (GCV 2,200-2,500 kcal/kg).
  • Overall there are 17 grades of coal according to the Coal Ministry‘s classification.

Characteristics of Indian Coal:

  • Historically, Indian coal is high in ash content and low in calorific value compared to imports.
  • Higher ash content leads to increased emissions of particulate matter and pollutants.

Clean Coal Technologies:

  • Coal Washing: On-site processes such as coal washing are employed to reduce ash and moisture content, thereby improving energy efficiency and reducing environmental impact.
  • Coal Gasification: Another approach is coal gasification, where coal is converted into syngas through an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC). This process enhances efficiency and reduces emissions compared to traditional coal-burning methods.

Coal Reserves in India

  • India boasts the fourth-largest coal reserves globally, totaling nearly 319.02 billion tonnes.
  • Geological Distribution: These reserves are primarily located in:
  1. Older Gondwana Formations: in Peninsular India, about 250 million years old.
  2. Younger Tertiary Formations: in the North-Eastern region, 15 to 60 million years old.
  • Gondwana coal constitutes 99% of India’s coal production.
  • The top 5 States in terms of total coal reserves in India are: Jharkhand > Odisha > Chhattisgarh > West Bengal > Madhya Pradesh.
  • Types of Coal found:
    • Anthracite: This highest-grade coal contains 80-95% carbon and is found in smaller quantities in regions of Jammu and Kashmir.
    • Bituminous: A medium-grade coal with 60 to 80% carbon content, it is abundant in Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh.
    • Lignite: The lowest-grade coal, with 40 to 55% carbon content, is found in regions of Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Jammu & Kashmir.

Status of Coal in India

  • In the fiscal year 2023-24, India’s coal production peaked at 997 million tonnes, primarily sourced from state-owned Coal India Ltd and its subsidiaries. Coking coal accounted for 58 million tonnes.
  • During the first quarter of 2024, renewable energy constituted 71.5% of India’s unprecedented 13.6 GW power generation capacity addition, signalling a notable departure from reliance on coal.

Coal Import Trends:

    • Reduction in Share: The share of coal imports in India’s total coal consumption decreased to 21% from April 2023 to January 2024, down from 22.48% in the corresponding period of the previous year.
    • Blending and Power Plant Imports: While there was a significant reduction of 36.69% in coal imports for blending by thermal power plants, imports by coal-based power plants surged by 94.21% during the same period.
  • Reasons for Coal Imports:
    • Quality Constraints: The scarcity of good quality coking coal, essential for steelmaking, necessitates coal imports to meet industrial demands.
    • Rising Energy Demand: Coal remains a vital component of India’s energy mix, prompting the need for imports to fulfil growing energy requirements.
    • Infrastructure Challenges: Challenges such as geological constraints, land acquisition issues, and environmental regulations impede domestic coal production
    • Quality and Cost Considerations: Importing coal can offer cost advantages and access to better-quality coal compared to domestic sources


[2020] Consider the following statements:

  1. Coal ash contains arsenic, lead and mercury.
  2. Coal-fired power plants release sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen into the environment
  3. High ash content is observed in Indian coal.

Which of the statements given above is/ are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

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