April 13, 2017 / 4:37 AM / 3 months ago

India hopes to auction coal blocks for commercial mining by end-December

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Labourers load coal onto a supply truck on the outskirts of Jammu April 6, 2017.Mukesh Gupta

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India aims to auction coal blocks for commercial mining by end- December, coal secretary Susheel Kumar told television channel ET NOW on Thursday, a move that would end monopoly of state-run firms in coal mining.

This could help the country to meet its target and produce 1 billion tonnes by 2020.

Coal accounts for about 70 percent of India's power generation, and the government wants to boost domestic output to cut imports.

Despite environmental worries, India plans to continue to depend on burning coal to provide power for a population of 1.3 billion.

Indian coal companies have pithead stock - coal mined, but not supplied - of 69 million tonnes, Kumar said, adding Coal India Ltd does not need to produce more.

Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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