Underground and Opencast Coal Mining Methods in India: A Comparative Assessment

Main Article Content

Sourav Mukherjee
Deb Prakash Pahari


Coal is one of the most essential resources of a country. It is widely used for power generation and as a raw material in the industries. India ranks third in coal production. However, the country has to import coal in order to meet the rising demand for coal.  In India, coal mining is conducted using two methods: underground and opencast methods. The underground method is suitable for extraction of deeper coal seams, whereas opencast method is suitable for shallow coal seams. However, due to less production cost, mechanisation, and less wastage, opencast method dominates in India (93.26% of the total production in the financial year 2016-17). Underground coal production in India shows a declining trend, and several underground mines are closed every year. However, 60% of the total coal production in the world is from underground mines, whereas in India it constitutes only 6.74% in the financial year 2016-17. Thus, underground coal production in India is declining. Due to the large scale extraction of near-surface coal resources by opencast mining, near-surface coal resources will be depleted in future.

Moreover, opencast mining has several environmental impacts, which is ignored keeping in view the colossal coal demand of the country.  Thus, coal production in India is facing a crisis concerning the production method, environmental impacts and future demand for coal. With this background, this paper has been prepared on the basis of data collected from reports, research papers, and articles. Here, we make an attempt to compare both the mining methods with respect to advantages, disadvantages, environmental impact and feasibility. We also discuss the current and future trends of coal production using both the mining methods. Measures to sustain coal production in India are discussed in the conclusion part.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Mukherjee, S., & Pahari, D. P. (2019). Underground and Opencast Coal Mining Methods in India: A Comparative Assessment. Space and Culture, India, 7(1), 39-55. https://doi.org/10.20896/saci.v7i1.395
Special Articles
Received 2018-11-02
Accepted 2019-04-03
Published 2019-06-30


Aggarwal, Y. (2018). Will Privatisation Help the Cause of Coal Industry?. The Asian Age. From https://www.asianage.com/opinion/oped/270218/will-privatisation-help-the-cause-of-coal-industry.html.
Baruah, J., Baruah, B. K., Kalita, S. & Choudhury, S. K. (2016). Impact Analysis of Open Cast Coal Mining on Land Use/Land Cover using Remote Sensing and GIS Technique in Ledo Margherita Region of Assam, India. Imperial Journal of Interdisciplinary Research (IJIR), Vol-2, Issue-8, 2016.
Banerjee, R., & Mistri, D. B. (2019). Impact of Coal Mining in Diversification of Rural Livelihoods: A Case Study in the Barjora Colliery Area of Bankura District, West Bengal. Journal Space and Culture, India, 6(5), 228-240. From https://doi.org/10.20896/saci.v6i5.335.
Bhelkar, S. M., Ughade, S. N., Thakre, S. & Jogdand, G. (2015). A Comparative Study of Morbid Conditions Amongs OC and UG Coal Miners. Journal of Evolution of Medical and Dental Sciences 2015; Vol. 4, Issue 07, January 22. DOI: 10.14260/jemds/2015/159. Pp.1132-1137.
BRAZIL Market Overview: Mining Equipment and Supplies. From https://build.export.gov/build/idcplg?IdcService=DOWNLOAD_PUBLIC...
CIL Looks to Offer Coal at Prices Lower Than Private Operators - The Economic Times. (Mar 30, 2018, 11.23 PM IST). From https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/indl-goods/svs/metals-mining/cil-looks-to-offer-coal-at-prices-lower-than-private-operators/articleshow/63550479.cms.
Chikkatur, A. P. (2008). A Resource and Technology Assessment of Coal Utilization in India. Coal Initiative Reports, White Paper Series. Pew Center on Global Climate Change, 2101 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 550, Arlington, VA 22201.
Chitade, A. Z. & Katyar, S. K. (2010). Impact Analysis of Opencast Coal Mines on Land Use/ Land Cover using Remote Sensing and GIS Technique: A Case Study. International Journal of Engineering Science and Technology. Vol. 2 (12), 2010, Pp.7171-7176.
Coal Directory of India. (FY 1998-99 to 2016-17). Government Of India, Ministry Of Coal, Coal Controller’s Organisation Kolkata 1, Council House Street Kolkata - 700 001. From http://www.coalcontroller.gov.in/pages/display/16-coal-directory.
Coal Vision 2030. (2018). Stakeholders’ Consultation. Coal India Limited. From https://www.coalindia.in/DesktopModules/DocumentList/documents/Coal_Vision_2030_document_for_Coal_Sector_Stakeholders_Consultation_27012018.pdf.
Coal Mining in the United States. (2018). In Monitoring and Sampling Approaches to Assess Underground Coal Mine Dust Exposures. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018, Washington, DC, The National Academies Press. From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531861/.
Coal Mine Methane Recovery in Ukraine: Inventory of Methane Emissions from Coal Mines in Ukraine: 1990-2001. (2002). Prepared by: Partnership for Energy and Environmental Reform. From https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-04/documents/inventory2002.pdf.
Das Sharma, P. (2009). Coal and Metal Surface and Underground Mining – An Overview. From https://miningandblasting.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/coal_and_metal_surface_and_underground_mining_an_overview.pdf
Energy Statistics. (2017). Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation Government of India. Central Statistics Office, New Delhi. From http://www.mospi.nic.in/sites/default/files/publication_reports/Energy_Statistics_2017r.pdf.pdf.
Eurocoal: The voice of Coal in Europe. From https://euracoal.eu/info/country-profiles/poland/
Fernandes, A. & Sanzillo, T. (2013). Coal India Running on Empty? Greenpeace India. From https://www.banktrack.org/download/coal_india_running_on_empty_/coalindiarunningonempty.pdf.
Ghose, M. K. & Majee, S. R. (2001). Air Pollution Due to OC Coal Mining and It’s Control in Indian Context. Journal of Scientific & Industrial Research. Vol -60, October: 2001, Pp.786-797.
Garada, R. (2015). Coal Mining Environment and Health Problems: A Case of MCL Affected Households at Talcher, Odisha (India). IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science (IOSR-JHSS), Volume 20, Issue 5, Ver. 1 (May. 2015), Pp. 89-98.
Goswami, S. (2013). Coal Mining, Environment and Contemporary Indian Society. Global Journal of Human Social Science Geography, Geo-Sciences, Environmental Disaster Management. Volume 13 Issue 6 Version 1.0 Year 2013. ISSN: 0975-587X.
Indian Coal & Lignite Resources-2017. (2017). Natural Energy Resources Mission-IIB. Government of India, Geological Survey of India. From https://gsi.gov.in/cs/groups/public/documents/document/b3zp/mtyx/~edisp/dcport1gsigovi161863.pdf.
Kazakhstani GHG Emissions Inventory from Coal Mining and Road Transportation. Final Project Report (2002). Kazakh Research Institute for Environment Monitoring and Climate. Seifullin Av. 480072 Almaty Kazakhstan. From http://www.globalchange.umd.edu/data/aisu/publications/kazakemm.pdf.
Kishore, B. (2018). Future of Bulk Production from Underground Coal Mine in India. Coal Mining Technology & Management Vol. 21, No. 1 – June 2018. Indian Institute of Coal Management Kanke, Ranchi – 834006. From www.iicm.ac.in/images/pdf/CMTM-JUNE-2018.pdf
Li, J., Zhang, T. T., Yang, W. & Zhang, Y. (2016). The Environmental Impact of Mining and Its Countermeasures. MATEC Web of Conferences 63, 04010 (2016). DOI: 10.1051/matecconf/2016630.
Mishra, D. P., Sugla, M. & Singha, P. (2013). Productivity Improvement in Underground Coal Mines – A Case Study. Journal of Sustainable Mining. Vol. 12 (2013), No. 3. Pp. 48–53.
Mishra, P. & Suhag, R. (2017). PRS Legislative Research. Demand for Grants 2017-18 Analysis (Coal). PRS Legislative Research. Institute for Policy Research Studies 3rd Floor, Gandharva Mahavidyalaya ,212, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg , New Delhi – 110002 . From http://www.prsindia.org/administrator/uploads/general/1519280783~~DFG%20analysis%20Coal.pdf
Mitra, R. & Saydam, S. (2012). Surface Coal Mining Methods in Australia, Mining Methods, Prof. Turgay Onargan (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0289-2, InTech, From http://www.intechopen.com/books/mining-methods/surface-coal-mining-methods-in-australia
Mkpuma, R. O., Okeke, O.C. & Abraham, E. M. (2015). Environmental Problems of Surface and UG Mining: a Review. The International Journal Of Engineering And Science (IJES), Volume 4, Issue:12,Pp. 12-20.
Munnik, V. (2010). The Social and Environmental Consequences of Coal Mining in South Africa: A Case Study. A joint initiative of Environmental Monitoring Group, Cape Town, South Africa and Both Ends, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. From https://www.bothends.org/uploaded_files/uploadlibraryitem/1case_study_South_Africa_updated.pdf.
Oprisan, M. (2011). Prospects for Coal and Clean Coal Technologies in Kazakhstan. IEA Clean Coal Centre. From https://www.usea.org/sites/default/files/122011_Prospects%20for%20coal%20and%20clean%20coal%20technologies%20in%20Kazakhstan_ccc192.pdf.
Raghavan, V., Ariff, S. & Kumar, P. P. (2014). Optimum Utilisation of Continuous Miner for Improving Production in Underground Coal Mines. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, Volume 4, Issue 10, October 2014. ISSN 2250-3153.
Slivyak, V. & Podosenova, O. (2013). Russian Coal Industry: Environmental and Public Health Impacts and Regional Development Prospects. From https://below2c.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/russian-coal-industry-preliminary-english-version.pdf
Tongia, R. (2016). Report on Brookings India Roundtable on “Future of Coal-2020. Brookings India. From https://www.brookings.edu/research/report-brookings-india-roundtable-on-future-of-coal-2020/.
Tiwary, R. K. (2001). Environmental Impact of Coal Mining on Water Regime and Its Management. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution. November 2001, Volume 132, Issue 1–2. Pp. 185–199.
The Coal Resource: A Comprehensive Overview of Coal. (2009). World Coal Institute, Cambridge House, 180 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, London SW15 2SH, UK. From https://www.worldcoal.org/file_validate.php?file=coal_resource_overview_of_coal_report(03_06_2009).pdf.
Wagner, H & Schumann, E.H.R. (1991). Surface effects of total coal-seam extraction by UG mining methods. Journal of The South African Institute Of Mining And Metallurgy. Vol: 91, No. 7. Jut 1991. Pp. 221-231.
Yamatomi, J. & Okubo, S. (2009). Surface Mining Methods and Equipment. Civil Engineering – Vol. II. In Civil Engineering - Volume II. Edited by Kiyoshi Horikawa, Qizhong Guo. Enclycopedia of Life Support System, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Pp.: 155-170. From http://www.eolss.net/sample-chapters/c05/e6-37-06-01.pdf
Zehirov, S., Kaykov, D. & Koprev, I. (2017). A Review of Combining Open-Pit and Underground Mining Methods around the World. Journal of Mining and Geological Sciences, Vol. 60, Part II, Mining, Technology and Mineral Processing, 2017. Pp.17-20.