Poland to partner India for one of world’s biggest coal blocks

Recognized as one the leading mining nations in the world Polish government has prepared ‘West Bengal Project’ that was discussed recently during Bengal Global Business Summit. Poland was partner country of the summit for a third time in a row. Poland looks for collaboration with both PSUs and the biggest private players.

During a recent meeting with senior executives of the West Bengal Power Development Corporation Limited (WBPDCL), Polish companies restated their readiness to provide their Indian counterparts with innovative technologies and solutions for the development of the coal mining sector in India, with particular regard to the Deocha Pachami coal block.

The meeting followed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Poland and the Ministry of Coal of the Republic of India to increase cooperation in the mining sector.

The MOU was signed by the State Secretary in the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Poland, Grzegorz Tobiszowski, and the Union Minister of State of Coal & Mines of the Republic of India, H.P. Choudhary in Delhi, on February 4.

Tobiszowski also touched upon the project of Deocha Pachami coal block, during the meeting with the West Bengal Minister for Power and Non-Conventional Energy Sources Mr. Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay. This meeting took place on the sidelines of the BGBS 2019, early February.

Several key top executives of the largest mining sector companies of Poland, as well as officials from the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, were present at the meeting with the WBPDCL representatives, which also took place on the sidelines of the West Bengal Global Business Summit, in Kolkata.

During the meeting, Polish companies expressed their willingness to offer assistance in all aspects of the development of the Deocha Pachami coal block, from the initial exploration of coal reserves, to the development of underground coal mining operations and coal production and extraction.

Leading Polish mining companies, such as JSW S.A., a major producer of coking coal in Poland; JSW Innowacje S.A., engaged in research and development in the mining sector; PeBeKa S.A., engaged in the sinking of mine shafts and other infrastructure projects; FAMUR, one of the largest producers of mining machinery and equipment in Poland; and the Chief Mining Institute of Poland (GIG) were present at the meeting.

Those companies offer solutions that could be adapted to conditions in the Deocha Pachami coal block: detailed exploration of coal reserves; demethanation and the use of technologies for the commercial exploitation of underground methane; advisory solutions on the development of underground coal mines; longwall machinery and continuous miners; mine safety and personnel security equipment; exchange of technical know-how through academic exchange programs; and dry coal treatment technologies.

Additionally, the representatives of the Polish companies reaffirmed their willingness to provide solutions which were not only environmentally sustainable, but which would also allow India to meet its commitments in tackling climate change.

The Deocha Pachami coal block, has estimated coal reserves of over 2 billion tons – being the largest coal block in Asia, and was recently awarded to the West Bengal Power Development Corporation Limited (WBPDCL) by the union government.

The acceleration in the development of cooperation between India and Poland falls under the umbrella of the West Bengal Project, a program launched by the Government of Poland in 2018.

The West Bengal Project, brings together the most prominent companies and institutions from the Polish mining sector, state organizations and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Energy of the Republic of Poland. The aim of the project is to combine innovative technologies and technical know-how of its constituent members, thereby providing tailor-made and state-of-the-art solutions and offers for underground mining in India.

The Polish Development Fund (PFR) is also an active member of the West Bengal Project, and has expressed its interest in providing financing for any programs to Polish companies under the framework of the Project.

This is the first time that the government of the Republic of Poland has sought to provide comprehensive solutions, assistance and machinery specifically aimed at a particular sector of a foreign partner’s economy.

As India endeavors to fulfill its ambitious targets to increase domestic coal production to 1 billion tons annually, Poland stands committed to provide its global expertise and know-how to assist their Indian counterparts in meeting this goal.

Poland is a world leader in the mining sector and can offer complex solutions and the most modern technologies in the field of underground coal mining. Polish mining companies have a proven expertise in the extraction of coal from depths of up to 1,300 meters. The Polish coal producing enterprise JSW S.A. is also the largest producer of coking coal in Europe.

In February 2019, Poland participated as a partner country at the West Bengal Global Business Summit for the third year in a row, thereby underscoring Poland’s strategic commitment to further developing bilateral cooperation with the state of West Bengal.

In 2018, the state government of Silesia in Poland and the government of West Bengal signed a Memorandum of Understanding to increase bilateral cooperation in the mining and power sectors. It has to be stressed, that the majority of coal mining business, machinery and research institutes in this field are placed in Silesia.

Poland and India have a long history of collaboration in coal mining. One of the first underground coal mines in India, situated in Moonidih in the present day state of Jharkhand, was developed and operationalized with assistance of Polish mining sector companies in the 1960s.

Polish academic institutions, such as GIG and the AGH Institute of Science & Technology, have also hosted more than 120 Indian mining sector engineers on academic exchange programs since March 2017.

Poland established a consortium of the above mentioned companies to make the cooperation with India effective. It is time to reply, with a similar move.