- Better quality sand to be offered at almost 10 per cent of market price
- Western Coalfields Ltd (WCL) takes up the very first initiative
- Reduces adverse footprint of river bed mining of sand
New Delhi: Even as the mandate is to produce and despatch coal to its consumers, Coal India Limited (CIL) has taken an out-of-box initiative to produce sand from Over Burden at a much cheaper price. The very first initiative of such conversion has been taken up by Western Coalfields Limited (WCL), a subsidiary of CIL, in its mines. This will not only help in minimising environmental pollution due to sand siltation from overburden but will also be an option for getting cheaper sand for construction purposes. Production of sand has already started and a roadmap for the next five years has been drawn to maximise the output of sand from different coal-producing companies under CIL and to become one of the major suppliers of sand in the near future, said an official statement released on Tuesday.
CIL aims to reach a production level of around 8 million tonnes (MT) of sand within the next five years by commissioning 15 major sand plants in its different coal producing subsidiaries. By the end of the current fiscal, CIL envisages having nine out of 15 plants with a production of around three lakh cubic meters. This effort will not only help the society at large but will also help in minimising river bed mining of sand, said the statement.
During opencast mining of coal, the strata lying above the coal seam is known as overburden, comprising of clay alluvial sand and sandstone with rich silica content. The overburden is removed to expose and extract coal from beneath. After completion of coal extraction, the overburden is used for backfilling to reclaim the land in its original shape. While extracting overburden from the top, a swell factor of the volume accounts for 20-25 percent. The initiative has been taken to utilise at least 25 percent of overburden in converting to sand by crushing, sieving and cleaning.
Initially, a pilot project has been launched where the sand was extracted through machines erected departmentally. This sand has been offered to Nagpur Improvement Trust at a much cheaper price for constructing low-cost houses under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY). The price of sand is almost 10 percent of the market price with better quality. On the huge success of the project and with the growing demand of cheaper sand, WCL launched commercial production by commissioning the largest sand production plant of the country near Nagpur. This unit produces 2,500 cubic metres of sand per day at about half the market price. A major chunk of the sand produced from this plant is being given to PSUs such as NHAI, MOIL, Mahagenco and other smaller units at one-third of the market price. The rest of the sand is being sold through open auction in the market which is helping locals to get sand at a much cheaper price. The use of overburden has minimised the volume of land required for overburden dump. This initiative also lowers the adverse footprint of riverbed mining of sand. WCL is also selling overburden for road construction at a cheaper price to NHAI & others. Two new plants in Chandrapur District of Maharashtra have been planned by WCL, which is likely to be commissioned by the year-end.
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