COVID-19 hits coal production by over 25% in 2020-21 -

COVID-19 hits coal production by over 25% in 2020-21

As expected the COVID-19 pandemic impact on the economic activity has taken a heavy toll on the performance of Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL) as it has posted the second lowest coal production and despatches in 2020-21 during the last 11 years.

According to the company officials, the public sector coal company could mine only 50.58 lakh tonnes of the fossil fuel mainly used in power generation, cement, steel and other industries as also by railways in 2020-21 against the target of 67.5 million tonnes. In terms of percentage it was only 74.93.

Similarly, the coal despatches by the company too were low at 48.51 million tonnes or 71.87% of the target of 67.5 million tonnes. Compared to the previous fiscal 2019-20, coal production was hit over 21% and despatched by over 22%.

Since 2010-11, it was only in 2013-14 the coal production was the lowest at 50.47 million tonnes as the movement to statehood to Telangana was at its peak and impacted the mining activity with regular strike of work in support of the movement. In despatches too, 2013-14 was the worst-hit when only 47.89 million tonnes of coal was despatched.

The officials stated that month-wise production of coal was lower by 40% to 45% during the April-August period of the just concluded fiscal. However, production was slightly higher in two months of the fiscal, when compared to the previous year.

“Production was hit for about two months badly during the lockdown period when lay-off was announced in most of the underground mines, except those where coal mining was completely mechanised. The impact of production and demand loss was huge on the company and it is estimated at over ₹5,000 crore,” a senior executive of the company said when contacted.

The coal demand (consumption) was affected up to 60% during the lockdown period and it had reached normalcy only in a phased manner, the senior executive said adding that that reduced coal demand was met from the opencast and five mechanised underground mines.

With the revival of the economic activity following the phased unlock of the restrictions, the demand for coal has picked from all sectors.

The company has set a target of 70 million tonnes of coal production for 2021-22 and to achieve it the company has also decided to acquire new machinery and equipment with over ₹41 crore.

The turnover of the company which was ₹24,208 crore in 2019-20 is also expected take a hit in 2020-21 with the COVID-induced slump in production and sales of coal.

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