Coal stocks at power plants rise as Coal India steps up production

A coal mine labourer loading coal inside a truck.
Coal stocks at power plants peaked to 34.25 million tonne (mt) on Sunday, after  Coal India Limited stepped up production and supplies. 

With this development, none of the units run by NTPC on its own, along with those operated by its joint ventures now faces a situation of super critical stocks, with inventories improving after a gap of almost three years. 

According to the Maharatna company, after months of poor sales owing to both demand and supply constraints, coal offtake reached 48.07 million tonnes (mt) on January 27, registering a 6.2 per cent growth over the same date in 2019. In absolute terms, sales volume increased by 2.82 mt. 

Total coal stocks currently stand at 65.66 mt of which 31.41 mt is lying at Coal India’s pitheads.

The rest, which is with the power plants, is sufficient for 19 days of consumption. 

Coal production between January 1 and 27 was up 10.7 per cent at 54.17 mt, ahead by 5.23 mt in absolute terms on a like-to-like comparison of last year. This is the first double-digit growth so far this fiscal year for the company. On an average, Coal India has been producing about 2 mt a day during the month. Officials expect production to be up by another 8 mt by end of January. 

“The production spurt came largely on back of (operations at) Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) and South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL),” a company official said.

MCL surged ahead with 21.5 per cent production growth, as of the referred date, followed by SECL with 14.4 per cent. These are two of the largest producing subsidiaries of CIL. On a combined basis, they contribute close to half of Coal India’s total output. Much to the company's relief, SECL's Dipka opencast mine, the third-largest coal producing mine of Coal India, came back strongly in record time reaching 100,000 tonnes pf output per day. Dipka’s lower benches were flooded when a non-seasonal river broke the embankment and flooded the mine on September 29 last year.

Coal supplies on the other hand, were up 6.2 per cent at 48.07 mt on January 27.

“Better management of supply logistics ensured that coal stock at various power stations was maintained throughout the year and the number of critical power plants never touched double digits during 2019-20 as per Central Electricity Authority,” the official said. 

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