Only 20 coal mines or blocks that are part of the auction could get two or more bids

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India received 82 bids from 46 firms for 23 coal mines. (Credit: Анатолий Стафичук from Pixabay)

The Indian government could not find any takers for 15 of the 38 coal mines offered for private sector participation in an auction that was launched in mid-June 2020.

The Ministry of Coal stated that it has received a total number of 82 bids from 46 firms either offline or physically for 23 coal mines/blocks.

It further revealed that only 20 coal mines or blocks that are part of the auction attracted two or more bids.

Adani Enterprises, the largest coal trader in India, and Jindal Steel and Power were among the firms that submitted bids, reported Reuters, citing two sources with knowledge about the development.

According to the publication, Adani Enterprises had a change in strategy, as last month the group was not keen on taking part in the auction as per its chief financial officer. However, a spokesman of the group told the publication last month that the decision could be reconsidered if the demand for the commodity is seen to be growing.

Coal mines auction is part of India’s efforts to revive its economy

The auction for the coal mines was taken up following an announcement from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June 2020 in an effort to revive the country’s economy.

As part of it, the government opened up the coal blocks for commercial mining under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan programme.

The announcement meant that private firms could mine coal for the purpose of commercial mining without facing any end-use curbs.

Apart from that, the policy change meant that mined coal can be sold outside India. This removed the previous restriction which limited the use of the mined coal for the firms’ own consumption.

The coal mines put up for the auction are estimated to have a total reserve of 17 billion tonnes, reported The Economic Times.

Last month, the government took a step to limit the participation of firms from China and other countries sharing a land border in the auction. The move came amid growing tensions across the border with China.