According to reports in the Indian media, the Deocha-Pachami coal block located in the east Indian state of West Bengal, is likely to be developed by the West Bengal government in collaboration with Polish mining majors.

Promoted as the largest single-location coal reserve in Asia, the Deocha-Pachami block has been at the centre of talks held over the last month between the officials of India’s federal Coal Ministry, the state government of West Bengal and senior Polish officials.

According to sources, the Polish government has offered technology, mining solutions and high technology specialised equipment for developing the block with an estimated 2-billion tonnes of high-grade coal reserve.

The joint development of Deocha-Pachami block by the West Bengal government and Polish miners was in the wake of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed last month between Poland’s Energy Ministry and India’s Coal Ministry.

Of significance was the offer of underground mining technology and equipment from Polish companies, which are regarded as global leaders in the sector, since underground mining in India has been on the wane with miner Coal India Limited closing down unviable underground mines, resulting in the unavailability of domestic equipment suppliers.

The Coal Ministry last year awarded the Deocha-Pachami block to West Bengal Power Development Corporation (WBPDCL). However, up until recently, the problem faced by the West Bengal government was the optimal development of and production from the coal block, since thermal power plants under the state government would not require the entire volume of coal that could be optimally extracted from the block and captive miners were not allowed merchant sale of the production.

The Indian government earlier this year began permitting captive coal miners free sale and free pricing of 25 per cent of production from the mine. The WBPDCL, however, was not in a position to develop the asset to maximise production and increase viability with an additional revenue stream from such free sale of part production, state government officials said.

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