With the aim to support coal mine operations and to reduce the country's reliance on imports, the central government is mulling to introducing technology platforms that can help the sector be more productive and agile.
According to the draft technology road map for the coal sector, the objective is to apply new technologies and develop digital infrastructure to support current and future mine ramp-up. This requires robust, multi-speed information technology and infrastructure backbone that enables the quick deployment of new technologies.
The draft policy outline that to create such a system, access to new-age ecosystems would be required (e.g., start-ups, established vendors, research institutes, etc). The technological change will also necessitate the establishment of a new organisational culture.
To minimise reliance on imports, it is vital for Coal India Ltd (CIL) to achieve the one billion tonnes (BT) target, going on a journey of technological change, the company stated.
New technologies have the potential to significantly impact mining operations in a variety of ways, including safety and productivity, environmental protection, and possibilities for women.
The draft note added that incorporating technology into mining projects results in safer working conditions through increased subsurface communication, automation, more sophisticated mineral and metal transportation, and emergency response procedures.
The entire organisation will be instilled with a new way of thinking. A technological transformation team will be developed to ensure the program's effect and sustainability through the establishment of a centre of excellence.
To ensure timely resolution and delivery, a sophisticated tracking and change management framework will be implemented.
According to the draft technology road map for the coal sector, “the scope of this road map is…technology enablement in coal mines for transformation across the business value chain, leveraging ‘digital technology' as an accelerator for demonstrating performance enhancement in coal mines and increasing productivity, safety, and sustainability while…reducing environmental impact through the upgrade of conventional technologies to new technologies.”
India possessed a total reserve of 344.02 billion tonnes of coal. In the last four decades, India's commercial primary energy consumption has increased by 700%. The expanding economy, growing population, and improved quality of living are all major factors driving the increase in energy demand.
Due to the limited potential of alternative energy sources, coal will continue to be India's principal energy source for the next few decades.
However, due to the high demand and low average quality of domestic coal, the country is forced to import higher-quality coal to meet the needs of its steel factories, cement plants, and sponge iron plants, among others.