Alleging that substandard supplies have been causing it huge losses, power major Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) has approached Coal India Ltd (CIL) for improved quality of coal after 78 per cent test results of third-party sampling have reported grade slippage -- with shale and stones found in the coal, an official said.
DVC and other power generation companies had entered into tripartite agreements with the Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR), under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and coal companies last August for third-party sampling and analysis at the loading end, a DVC official said.
The power producer, which procures about 20 million tonnes of coal annually, used to source coal from CIL subsidiaries Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL), Central Coalfields Ltd (CCL), Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) and Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL).
"As of now, multiple-grade slippage was seen in maximum coal sample test results submitted by CIMFR. Grade slippage was highest in BCCL at 98 per cent, followed by CCL 84 per cent and 61 per cent in MCL for coal sampled in November and December 2016. Coal sample test results of ECL haven't been made available by CIMFR till now," the DVC official told IANS on condition of anonymity.
"Overall, grade slippage was 78 percent of test results submitted by CIMFR," the official added.
The power producer has approached CIL for ensuring quality coal. "We have approached CIL to improve the coal quality," the DVC official said, adding: "Coal companies have been raising bills on declared grades but they should have raised these on the analysed grade."
The official, however, said coal companies have challenged the test results.
"Tests on the same batch of samples was also carried out at our power stations and the results completely matched CIMFR's. But coal companies are not accepting the test results and are challenging the findings," the official said.
He said "shale and stones" were noticed in coal dispatched to its power stations, resulting in grade slippage.
Despite several attempts, CIL officials did not respond.
The power producer also sought CIL's cooperation to provide requisite "infrastructure and enabling conditions" for collection, preparation and storage of samples at the loading end.
"The sampling work is being hampered by non-availability of infrastructure and enabling conditions which were to be provided by the coal companies," the official said.
He said substandard coal has increased the DVC's energy cost.
"We have calculated that going by the trend of grade slippage as brought out in the test reports received so far from CIMFR, the negative impact on the cost of DVC power for November 2016 was Rs 0.50 per unit and for December Rs 0.36 a unit," the official said.
With a large number CIMFR test results facing challenge from coal companies, the referee samples have been sent to the designated laboratories for analysis, the official said.
"DVC suggested Coal India should jointly work out a standard operating procedure for referee analysis," the official added.
(Bappaditya Chatterjee can be contacted email@example.com)