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Ministry of Coal Advances Sustainable Practices for Fly Ash Disposal and Repurposing

New Delhi: In a significant move towards environmental protection and resource utilization, the Ministry of Coal (MoC) is actively ensuring the proper disposal and repurposing of fly ash generated by thermal power plants. This initiative underscores the Ministry’s commitment to a sustainable future, prioritizing environmental well-being and fostering a circular economy.

To minimize the environmental impact of coal combustion, the Ministry of Coal promotes the proper disposal of fly ash. Extensive research and development have enabled the effective use of fly ash for filling voids and as a component in construction materials. This not only reduces its environmental footprint but also supports sustainable development practices.

The Ministry of Coal has undertaken a significant initiative to ensure the proper disposal of fly ash by allocating mine voids for this purpose. In 2023, a Central Level Working Group (CLWG), chaired by the Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Coal, was formed to oversee this process. Thermal Power Plants (TPPs) interested in allocating mine voids apply to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), and these applications are discussed in CLWG meetings. To date, 19 mines have been allocated to 13 TPPs, addressing environmental concerns associated with fly ash disposal and promoting sustainable practices within the coal mining sector. Additionally, approximately 20.39 lakh tonnes of fly ash have been repurposed at Gorbicoal mine pit-1.

According to a Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notification dated November 3, 2009, “fly ash” encompasses all ash generated, including Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP) ash, dry fly ash, bottom ash, pond ash, and mound ash. Its composition, rich in silicon dioxide (SiO2), calcium oxide (CaO), and aluminum oxide (Al2O3), makes it valuable for various applications, transforming potential waste into useful material. Effective management promotes its use in construction activities, minimizing waste, conserving natural resources, and reducing the carbon footprint.

The Ministry of Coal, in collaboration with the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI), is developing a centralized portal to manage the application process for allocating mine voids to TPPs for fly ash backfilling activities. This portal aims to streamline operations and ensure transparency and efficiency.

Comprehensive feasibility studies are being conducted to explore optimal methods for mixing fly ash with overburden in operational mines. Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) have been established to guide the safe and efficient use of fly ash, addressing both safety and administrative considerations. A significant feasibility study is underway at the Nigahi operational mine in collaboration with the Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR). This study aims to determine the optimal percentage of fly ash to be mixed with overburden, with results expected soon.

The Ministry of Coal ensures the safe handling and management of fly ash, mitigating potential environmental concerns associated with the leaching of heavy metals and fine particle emissions. The Ministry will continue to innovate and implement sustainable practices, ensuring a cleaner and greener future for India.

Fostering collaboration with power plants, industries, and regulatory bodies, the Ministry of Coal aims to achieve optimal fly ash management. This collective effort paves the way for a cleaner environment, a healthier future, and a more sustainable approach to energy generation.

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