The Indo-China face-off at Galwan valley has blocked the arrival of the Chinese experts to help commission an Rs127 crore automated coal extracting continuous miner devices and the machinery which are now lying idle at Khottadihi coalmine of the Eastern Coalfields Limited – a Coal India subsidiary.

It may be noted that in February, it was the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown that had stalled the shipment of these mining machines from China and now the machines are lying idle in the absence of Chinese experts.

“We are expecting the things will be normal by the end of August and the Chinese experts would arrive Khottadihi to help their commissioning,” said A K Dhar, General Manager of ECL’s Pandaveswar Area.

He added: “We have got a projected production plan and the non-availability of the automated machines in the production line on time, will prove costly for us.”

The continuous miners, according to the ECL: “Would help 0.60 Million Tons of coal production annually. The delay in execution of the machines, according to a senior ECL official: “Has already caused the coal major to incur production loss worth Rs 3.5 Crore.”

A domestic JV agency had signed a contract agreement with China government owned Shanxi Tiandi Coal Mining Machinery Company on 14 September 2018 for the supply of these mining machines. The machinery was manufactured at Taiyuan – a city known as coal sector equipment paradise.

The machinery comprises two shuttle cars, two quadruple roof bolters, one feeder breaker, one automated power centre, one multi-utility vehicle and two passenger vehicles with explosion-proof wheels.

The entire machines, according to Sandip Dey, Director, Coal Mines Associate Traders – the JV partner, “We are trying to arrange 18 mining experts from different parts of India to help commission the machines. We shall wait till August in case situation changes and the Chinese experts are allowed to come.”

The Coal India authority has also sought assistance from the Asansol-Durgapur Police Commissionerate to help provide security to 30 Chinese mining experts those are deployed at Jhanjhra colliery – a neighbouring mine of Khottadihi, incidentally.