As India’s internal earth structure is formed from ancient hard rocks, it is one of the mineral-rich countries in the world. Coal is the main energy source in the country and currently accounts for 54% of the country’s energy needs. About 70% of the energy generated in the country is from coal-based power plants. India has an estimated 326.49 billion metric tonnes of Coal. The coal reserves are mainly found in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal, Madya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Telangana.
Distribution of Coal in India
Before going to discuss the major coalfields in India, we must know about the categories of coalfields. In India, Coal Fields may be classified into two categories:
- Gondwana Coalfields.
- Tertiary Coalfields.
The Gondwana coal is basically from the Carboniferous period about 250 million years back. Around 98% of the total coal reserves found in India are from the Gondwana period. The Gondwana coal is mainly of Anthracite or Bituminous type, containing 60 to 90 per cent carbon content. It is found in Damodar (Jharkand-West Bengal), Mahanadi (Chhattisgarh-Odisha), Godavari (Maharashtra), and Narmada valleys.
Tertiary coal is formed from the rocks of the Oligocene period (tertiary era), about 15 to 16 millions year old. It contributes only 2% of the total coal production in India. It is rich in moisture & sulphur but has low carbon content. It is mainly of lignite type, also called brown coal. Important areas where tertiary coal is found are Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Jammu and Kashmir, Himalayan foothills of Darjeeling in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Kerala.
Distribution of Gondwana Coal in India
Major states having large coal reserves of Gondwana coal are Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh.
Coalfields in Jharkhand
Jharkhand accounts for about 29% of the coal reserves and 20% of coal production. Major Coalfields are Jharaia, Bokaro, Giridih, Karanpur, and Ramgarh, situated in rich coal deposit districts of Dumka, Dhanbad, Hazaribagh, and Palamu.
Jharia coal mine, situated in the Dhanbad district, is the largest coal-producing mine in India. It deposits the best metallurgical coal (Bituminous) and produced 90% of cooking coal. Bituminous coal from this field is also supplied to the iron and steel industries.
It stretches in the valley of the Bokaro river in the district of Hazaribagh. The coal produced from this field is mainly supplied to the Bokaro iron and steel plant. Its Kargali seam is one of the thickest seams of the Gondwana Period.
Giridih (Karharbari) Coalfield
Giridih coalfield is situated in the Hazaribagh district. It provides the finest bituminous coal (coking coal) for metallurgical purposes. The coal produced is supplied to the Jamshedpur and Bokaro steel plants.
Karanpur and Ramgarh Coalfields
These coalfields are also situated in the district of Hazaribagh. The coal from these fields is of relatively inferior quality.
Hutar and Daltenganj Coalfields
Both the coalfields are present in the Palamau district. Coal produced is of Inferior quality, used in brick kilns & cement furnaces, but not for metallurgical purposes.
Deogarh coal mine lies in the district of Dumka. The coal is of inferior quality, mainly used in Brick kilns.
Coalfields in Odisha
Odisha ranks second in coal reserves having more than 24% of total coal reserves and 15% of total coal production in the country. Most of the coalfields are found in the district of Dhenkanal, Sambalpur, and Sundargarh.
Talcher coal reserve is the second largest reserve in the country after Raniganj. It stretched from Talcher town to Rairkhol in Dhenkanal and Sambalpur districts. Its coal is of lower grade, suitable for steam and gas production, and mainly utilized in thermal power and fertilizer plants.
RampurJimgir- coalfield lies in Sambalpur and Sundargarh districts, but the coal that occurs here is of inferior quality.
Coal Mines of Chhattisgarh
Chhattisgarh has the third-largest coal deposits (about 17%) in India and is one of the largest coal-producing states. Major coal deposits found are Kobra coalfield in Bilaspur district, Johilla coalfield in the Johillia valley, Jhimili coalfield in Shandol & Koriya districts, and Birampur, Hasdo-Arand, Lakhanpur, Sonhat & TataPani-Ramkota coalfield of Surguja district.
Coalfields in West Bengal
The first coal mine in India opened in 1774 in Raniganj district in West Bengal. About 11% of the total coal reserves of India are found in West Bengal, in the districts of Bardhaman, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Bankura, and Puruliya.
Ranijang is the important and largest mining coalfield in West Bengal. It is known for producing good quality coking coal. Its coal is mainly used in the Durgapur steel plant.
Coal Mines of Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh contributes around 8% of the total coal deposits of the country. Major coal fields are situated in Singrauli, Pench-Kanhan, Umaria, Muhpani, Satpura, and Saharanpur.
Singrauli coalfield is the largest coal deposit in Madya Pradesh, stretched over the Sidhi and Shandol districts. Its Jhingurda coal seam is the thickest in the country. The other important coal seams are Panipahari, Khadia, Purewa, and Turra seams. Its coal is mainly utilized for the thermal power plant at Obra.
This coal mine is situated in the Chhindwara district. Ghoravi seam of Kanhan field contains coal for coking and semi-coking category.
This coalfield lies in the Umaria district, containing coal of inferior quality, having a high percentage of ash and moisture.
Coal deposits of Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh comes sixth in terms of total coal reserves and fifth for coal production in the country. Most of the coalfields are found in the Godavari valley. Coal is mainly produced in the districts of Khammam, Nellore, and Warangal. The coal is of non-coking variety, used in thermal powerplants and fertilizer plants.
Singareni Coalfield is the main area of coal mining in Andra Pradesh. Kottagudam is another important coal-producing centre.
Coalfield in Maharashtra
About 3% of the total coal reserves of the country are found in Maharashtra. Major coal fields are situated in Wardha valley, Nagpur, and Yavatmal districts. The coal from these fields is used by the thermal power plants of Trombay, Kalyan, Paras, Nasik, and Koradi.
Distribution of Tertiary coal in India
Tertiary coal generally contains low carbon content but more moisture and has a high Sulphur percentage. It is mainly found in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Assam, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Naidu, and Kerala.
Coalfields in the North-Eastern States
The coal deposits are found in Makum, Dilli-Jeypore, Lakhani, Nazira, and Mikir Hills. Makum coalfield, situated in the Sibsagar district, is an important coalfield in Assam. Coal produced here contains high coking qualities and low ash but high sulphur content, which is not suitable for metallurgical purposes.
These coal reserves are present in the Garo, Khasi, and Jaintia hills. Darrangiri coalfield is found in Garo hills, whereas Siju, Cherrapunji, Maolong, Langrin coalfields are situated in Khasi and Jaintia hills,
Arunachal Pradesh coalfields
Namchick-Namrup coal mine is found in the upper Assam Coal belt in Arunachal Pradesh. Its coal is high in sulphur and volatility.
Coal deposits of West Bengal
In West Bengal, Lignite deposits are present in the Burza hills of Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling districts. It is mainly found in the Mana and Mahanadi valleys. The coal found in Darjeeling is in powder form with coking qualities.
Coalfields in Jammu and Kashmir
The Tertiary coal is found at Raithan of the Shalinganga, Baramulla, Handwara, Udhampur districts, and Karewas of Badgam and Srinagar. Its coal is of inferior quality with moisture and volatile matter but less carbon content.
Coalfields in Rajasthan and Gujarat
In Rajasthan, Lignite coal is found in the Palana and Khari mines of the Bikaner district. The coal is of inferior quality, used for railways and thermal power.
In Gujarat, coal is present in the district of Kutch and Bharuch. Its coal is of poor quality with more moisture.
Coal Mines in Tamil Naidu
Tamil Naidu has the largest lignite deposits in the Neyveli fields of the Cuddalore district. Due to the spontaneous combustion of lignite, mining is risky in these fields. Peat also occurs in the Nilgiri hills.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is the largest Coal mine in India?
Jharia coalfield in Jharkhand is the largest coal mine in the country.
Which is the biggest coalfield in India?
Talcher coalfield in Odisha is the biggest coalfield in India.
Which state has the major coalfields in India?
4. West Bengal.
5. Madhya Pradesh.
Which state is first in coal production?
Chhattisgarh is the largest coal-producing state in India.
Which is the oldest coalfield in India?
Ranigang coalfield in West Bengal is the oldest coalfield in India.