Guidelines soon on simultaneous coal and CBM mining

Vol 11, PW 1 (17 May 07) People & Policy

India’s coal and oil ministries should soon be in a position to settle their turf war over simultaneous mining of coal and Coal Bed Methane from a single block.

PETROWATCH understands that guidelines will soon be in place to enable operators to mine coal as well as CBM from the same block, without stepping on each other’s toes. Following heated discussions, a joint coal-oil ministry panel has managed to iron out differences between the two ministries.

Headed by PR Mandal, projects advisor in the coal ministry, the panel is preparing a report from which the eagerly awaited guidelines will flow. A coal ministry source says: “The panel held three meetings and has drawn technical inputs from the DGH, Coal Controller and other bodies.

â€‌ Examples of simultaneous coal and CBM mining have also been drawn from practices outside India. “The idea of simultaneous mining of coal and CBM is workable.

It is simply a question of phasing and deciding where you drill the boreholes for CBM on a coal block,â€‌ says our source. The report will stress that a CBM borehole, “should not interfere with the technical and safety aspects of coal mining.

â€‌ Present practice, following a MoU between the coal and oil ministries, limits coal mining to 300 metres depth, while CBM mining should be carried out below 300 metres. However, introduction of new technology means coal can be mined safely below 300 metres, so the MoU has to be modified accordingly.

The Mandal panel was set up following a meeting on 5th February convened by the oil ministry to remove areas of conflict between the two ministries and ensure “harmonious exploitation of CBM and coalâ€‌. Besides PR Mandal, the panel includes officials from the DGH, state-owned Coal Mines Planning and Design India, Directorate General of Mines Safety and the Coal Controller.

The panel was given a 60-day deadline to hand in its report.