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CIL in talks with Russian company for extraction, import of coking coal

VostokCoal-Diskon is developing coal extraction facilities at the Taimyr coal basin of Taymyr Peninsula in central Siberia. It has been exploring the area since 2016 and has recently opened two deposits that would touch peak capacity of 30 million tonnes a year. VostokCoal will build a coal terminal and create a specialised fleet for exporting coal round the year.

, ET Bureau|
Dec 05, 2019, 07.12 AM IST
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KOLKATA: Coal India (CIL) is in talks with Russian coal company Vostok-Coal-Diskon to participate in the extraction of coking coal and its imports from mines in the Siberian districts of Russia, Coal India executives said.

VostokCoal-Diskon is developing coal extraction facilities at the Taimyr coal basin of Taymyr Peninsula in central Siberia. It has been exploring the area since 2016 and has recently opened two deposits that would touch peak capacity of 30 million tonnes a year.

VostokCoal will build a coal terminal and create a specialised fleet for exporting coal round the year. Plans include bringing the coal home through the relatively new, Northern Sea Route, which connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean along the icy Russian coast of Siberia and the Russian Far East, through the Bering Strait near Alaska crossing five Arctic seas.

The shipping route has opened up in the last few years due to melting Arctic polar ice cap. It cuts short the distance between Northern Europe and China by almost 40% than via the Suez Canal, and 60% than via the Cape of Good Hope, the established routes.

Vessels, however, need to negotiate dense floating ice on the route for almost 10 months a year and VostokCoal will employ nuclear-powered icebreaker ships to provide safe waterways.

“The Indian government is in dialogue with Russia for importing coking coal and participate in its production,” a senior Coal India executive said. “As part of this dialogue, and as a coal-producing company, we are in dialogues with VostokCoal and would either import or participate in coal production as directed by the Centre.”

As a first step, Coal India signed MoUs with two Russian entities in September. The first was with Far Eastern Agency for Attracting Investments and Supporting Exports, for cooperation in mining coking coal in the Russian Far East and Arctic Region. The second MoU was between Coal India and Eastern Mining Company for exploring, identifying, sourcing, negotiating and consummating mutually beneficial investment opportunities in mining in the Russian Far East.

Parallelly, VostokCoal and the Far East Investment & Export Agency also signed an MoU for collaboration and implementation of Vostok-Coal project in the Taimyr coal basin. It will allow VostokCoal to receive state’s cooperation for the project and in negotiations with potential investors and partners.

These two MoUs will follow an arrangement between Coal India and VostokCoal for mining and importing coal to India.

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