October 3, 2019 / 3:26 PM / 14 days ago

REFILE-UPDATE 1-Coal India expects to resume a third of output at flooded Dipka mine within 10 days

(Corrects spelling of first name of Coal India official in para 3)

By Sudarshan Varadhan

NEW DELHI, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Coal India Ltd has resumed some production at its Dipka mine after flooding and aims to have at least a third of output back up and running within 10 days, a company official said on Thursday.

The mine in Chhattisgarh state in central India, one of India’s largest open-cast operations, was closed on Monday due to flooding after embankments of a nearby river broke due to heavy rainfall.

Binay Dayal, technical director at Coal India, told Reuters it would take a month before production resumed at the lower benches of the mine. A return to full production at the mine, which produces about 30 million tonnes a year or over 82,000 tonnes a day, could take longer still.

The shutdown at the mine has left some power plants in eastern and central India scrambling to secure alternative supplies of fuel.

“We are trying to achieve 30,000 tonnes production per day from the upper and middle benches of the mine in 10 days,” Dayal said.

“We will start pumping out water from the lower benches where water has become quite voluminous and that will take at least a month.”

A video shot on Monday by a volunteer at rights group Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan showed black water gushing down a slope and into the mine.

Reuters could not independently authenticate the video.

A senior official at South Eastern Coalfields, a unit of Coal India which operates the mine, said efforts to pump out water from the mine were being conducted on a “war footing.”

The official, who did not wish to be named, said water inflows into the mine had eased considerably.

Coal India’s production has been hampered by the heaviest monsoon rains in India in 25 years, with seasonal rains continuing for longer than expected.

The company, which has consistently missed annual production targets over the last few years, wants to produce 660 million tonnes during the year ending March 2020, up 8.7% from 2018/19.

Dayal said it will try to achieve the ambitious target by ramping up production at other mines.

“We are working out an emergency plan, we will try to achieve the target,” he said. (Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan, editing by Deepa Babington and Susan Fenton)

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