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Comprehensive Initiatives to Address Abandoned Mines and Implement Best Practices

Ministry of Coal Takes Strides Towards Responsible and Environmentally Sound Mine Closures

Comprehensive Initiatives to Address Abandoned Mines and Implement Best Practices

New Delhi: In a pivotal move towards responsible and environmentally conscious coal mine closures, the Ministry of Coal has spearheaded initiatives aimed at addressing the challenges associated with abandoned and closed mines. Traditionally, mine closures have often been marked by uncontrolled processes, leaving behind abandoned equipment and materials, resulting in neglected mine sites. Acknowledging the need for a systematic and structured approach, the Ministry introduced Mine Closure guidelines in 2009, subsequently revised in 2013 and 2020, with a focus on safe and stable closures while minimizing environmental impact.

Historically, mines closed before 2009 lacked a structured closure framework, leading to non-scientific closures and associated hazards. Recognizing the physical and environmental consequences linked with these abandoned mines, the Ministry issued guidelines in October 2022 for managing mines closed before 2009, categorizing them as discontinued, abandoned, or closed.

Coal India Ltd, aligning with the Ministry’s vision, has taken proactive steps towards the closure of mines. A total of 169 pre-2009 and 130 post-2009 mines, considered abandoned, discontinued, or closed, have been identified. Out of these, 68 pre-2009 mines are earmarked for final closure, with 63 Final Mine Closure Plans (FMCPs) meticulously prepared. Additionally, 14 pre-2009 mines are designated for temporary closure, with comprehensive Temporary Mine Closure Plans (TMCPs) developed for each.

In the case of post-2009 mines, Coal India Ltd is actively preparing 35 FMCPs, showcasing the commitment to responsible mine closures. Simultaneously, the Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) has identified six pre-2009 mines for temporary closure and five post-2009 mines for final closure. Mine closure activities are already underway for these identified mines, underscoring the commitment of both Coal India Ltd and SCCL to environmental sustainability.

Moreover, the Ministry has appointed an expert committee tasked with reviewing existing mine plan guidelines. The goal is to strengthen the mine closure framework and adopt best international practices. This initiative signifies a proactive approach to enhancing the guidelines and ensuring that mine closures are conducted in an environmentally friendly and responsible manner.

To streamline and monitor these comprehensive closure activities, the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI) has developed a portal. This centralized source facilitates the monitoring of closure activities, including reclamation, air and water quality post-closure, land repurposing, and social support measures. These initiatives collectively represent a paradigm shift towards responsible and scientifically sound mine closures, aligning with the Ministry of Coal’s commitment to environmental stewardship and community well-being.

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