A sack of coal sits on the ground at a coal wholesale market in Mumbai, India (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Government To Auction 19 Coal Mines This Quarter

The government is exploring certain tweaks for bidders, before auctioning 19 coal blocks this quarter, a top official said. This comes after the auctions were cancelled twice.

The government had last year annulled the fifth round of auction on account of poor response from bidders.

“Yes we are wanting to do the next round of coal block auction. This is probably the right time,” Coal Secretary Susheel Kumar told news agency PTI. “So in this quarter, it (coal block auction) should happen,” he added.

Of the 19 blocks to go under the hammer, six have been identified for the steel sector while the remaining 13 mines are for non-regulated sectors like cement, sponge iron and captive power, he said.

In order to attract more bidders and make successful the next round of auctions the coal ministry is also looking at providing certain relaxations but subject to adequate transparency and competition.

We are just looking at what relaxations can be given so that this round of auctions succeed subject to obviously adequate competition and adequate transparency. Those are non-negotiable principles. So subject to that if we can give some relaxations so that there are more bidders. That’s what we are exploring.
Susheel Kumar, Coal Secretary

The fifth round of coal blocks auction was annulled last year in the absence of good response from the bidders as the steel industry was not in a good shape.

In December 2015, the government had annulled the fourth round of coal mine auctions planned for January 2016 on account of tepid response from bidders in sectors such as steel besides depressed commodity prices and adverse market conditions.