SOURCE: The Barents Observer

DATE: November 1, 2019

SNIP: It was not alternative and green power that was discussed when Indian Minister of oil, natural gas and steel Dharmendra Debendra Pradhan visited Russia last month.

The minister was on a four-day tour in the Russian Far East and he had with him a powerful delegation of leaders from the country’s biggest industrial companies.

It was coal that was on top of Mr Pradhan’s agenda as he sat down with Russian government officials and business representatives.

“Our negotiations must end with a successful project decision on the development of metallurgic coal, that is to be exported from Russia,” the minster said in a meeting with the Russian Ministry of the Far East and Arctic.

According to Pradhan, India needs about 70 million tons of high-quality coal for its aluminum and steel industry.

Pradhan and the Indian business leaders are looking towards the Russian Arctic, where they will find all the carbon-rich rocks they ever might need.

Several new major mining projects are under development in the remote northern region. Among them is the projects of company Vostok Coal in the Taymyr Peninsula.

Vostok Coal plans to extract an annual 30 million tons of anthracite, a high-quality coal, from its fields in Taymyr.

Since 2016, the company has prepared the ground for a huge industrial project that includes several open pits and the building of seaports, roads and other infrastructure.

Coal India Limited is the largest coal-producing company in the world. It produces more than 500 million tons of raw coal per year and accounts for for more than 80 percent the coal production in India.

According to newspaper the Guardian, the Indian company is among the ten worst emitters of climate gasses in the world. Since 1965, the company is believed to have emitted more than 23 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalents.

Emissions are likely to increase as the company continues to increase production and hike imports.

Russia can offer what India needs, the Russian Ministry of the Far East and the Arctic underlines. In last month’s meetings with the Indians, First Deputy Minister Sergey Tyrtsev confirmed that Russia by year 2025 will be able to increase its exports to India by 700 percent.

The massive coal extraction on the Arctic tundra does not come without grave environmental impact. According to the environmental inspectors, Vostok Coal has inflicted serious damage to local environment and did not have the permissions needed.

Over the last 10 years, Russia has boosted its coal production by more than 30 percent to a total of 440 million tons, and the country is now the world’s third biggest producer.

In the same period, investments in the industry surged 150 percent.