India's second school of mines to come up in northeast
Even as irregularities in coal mining hits the headlines, India's second school of mines is being set up in the country's northeast in collaboration with the government of Queensland, Australia to provide skilled manpower for the growing needs of the mining industry.
"We now have an understanding specifically on setting up a school of mines in India," Rod Solomon, Trade and Investment Commisioner of Queensland, told IANS. This, he said, followed talks with the Indian government on cooperation in the field of vocational education.
Solomon declined to disclose the exact location of the school. He only said it would be set up in "one of the northeastern states."
Probed further, he said, "We (Oueensland state) are not going to actually build it (school). Somebody else will build the infrastructure. The understanding is that we will bring in the curricula and the trainers to provide the education."
The only school of mines in India is the Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad in Jharkhand, which was established in 1926 by the then British colonial government. The news of a second school of mines comes days after Hyderabad-based infrastructure company GVK received crucial Australian federal government clearance for a coal mine and railway project in Queensland.
Environmental clearance for GVK's Alpha Coal and Alpha West projects were halted in June after differences arose over its impact on Australia's Great Barrier Reef between the Australian and Queensland governments. GVK can now start implementing the USD 10.47 billion Alpha coal and rail project that would also allow the group to take up power projects in India based on Australian coal.
For all this GVK would need skilled manpower, like 20,000 to 30,000 people for the project. "In view of all this, we've been talking to the Indian government for some time for an overall memorandum of understanding (MOU) for organising vocational education for multiple sectors in India. The accord on a second school of mines is a result of this."
Solomon said the new push out of India is towards thermal coal for increased power production. Groups like the Adani Enterprises of Gujarat and GVK are acquiring large mining interests in Australia.
"In opening up these new mines they need to build infrastructure. GVK, for instance, will build a 490 km railway line from the Galilee Basin (Queensland) to the port at Abbot point as part of a pit-to-port project," he said.
GVK paid USD 1.26 billion last year to acquire 79 percent stake in the Alpha Coal and Alpha West projects and a 100 percent stake in the Kevin's Corner project in Queensland from Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd.
The projects hold coal reserves of eight billion tonnes and can produce 80 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) at peak capacity. The Alpha Coal project has a mine life of at least 30 years and a capacity of 32 mtpa.
Adani Enterprises plans to start digging its USD 10 billion Carmichael coal mine in Galilee in mid-2013.
(Biswajit Choudhury can be contacted at email@example.com)