Large-scale opencast projects have been identified by Coal India Ltd for achieving its 1 billion tonne target by FY 2020. CIL has planned to upgrade its coal mining technology to meet its objective. Use of surface miners, high wall miners, etc., will require skilled manpower for optimum utilisation and supervision of these heavy earth moving machinery (HEMM).
According to estimates, in FY 2020, the coal industry will require approximately 32,000–44,000 skilled personnel depending on the supply scenario. The skilled manpower will be needed for continuous miner operations in underground mines. Till 2015, eight continuous miners (CM) were being used by CIL for coal production from underground mines. The coal behemoth has estimated a requirement of 21 CMs by FY 2020 for enhancing its production from underground coal mines.
Each CM will require one operator per shift. Additional staff (roof bolters, ventilation assistant, shuttle car operators and cable handlers, etc.) will also be needed. Therefore, CIL will require around 63 highly skilled CM operators and about 300 support staff for efficient utilisation of the new technology.
Kameswara Rao, Leader, Energy, Utilities and Mining, PwC, feels that similar capacity building plans need to be adopted while adopting mining technologies. Development of comprehensive training and skill development curricula focussed on new underground mining technology may also be required.
Almost two-thirds of the 1 billion tone coal target will be met by CIL. In its “HR Vision FY2020”, CIL has indicated recruitment of 1,000 executives for meeting its manpower requirement.
The adoption of standard operating procedures (SOPs), incorporation of IT-based solutions, and implementation of best HR practices, (including performance management system, training and development, recruitment and retention) helps coal mining companies in capacity building.
The output per man shift (OMS) for opencast mines for CIL has improved significantly in the past 10 years (from 7.51 in FY06 to 13.06 in FY15). For underground mines, OMS has remained almost stagnant in the range of 0.71–0.78, during the same period.
Though most of the upcoming capacity will be added through the opencast method of mining in the next four years, the focus needs to be on productivity improvement of underground mines to sustain the growth post FY 2020.
Apart from mechanisation of underground mines, optimum utilisation of human resources will also be important. As per estimates by the Skill Council for Mining Sector (SCMC), the employment in the mining industry is expected to rise to 11 lakh by 2017 and 12 lakh by 2025.
With technology upgradation and productivity improvement, there is a requirement for upskilling or reskilling 50–55 per cent of the skilled and semi-skilled manpower and unskilled workers for which there is lack of industry-specific institutes.