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Coal India is upgrading transport facilities at mines as part of efforts to meet its target of producing 1 billion tonnes by 2024.

It has hired Indian Port Rail Corp. (IPRCL) to build rail infrastructure, construct more sidings and improve connectivity with Indian Railways’ main network. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday.

“The plan is to improve first-mile connectivity so that more coal can be moved in a shorter time from large mines,” a Coal India executive said. “Coal India is enhancing production capacity at each of its mines and the plan is to synchronise it with improved evacuation facilities.”

First-mile connectivity involves coal movement from pithead to despatch points. The company has also decided to switch to seamless mechanised coal transportation through piped conveyor belts at large mines by 2023-24. This will replace the existing road transport system for coal.

Conveyor belt projects worth Rs. 0,000 crore will be implemented at 35 mines with a production capacity of over 4 million tonnes a year. The infrastructure upgrade at these projects necessitates the construction of railway lines.

 IPRCL will undertake feasibility studies, project reports, railway approval, project management consultancy, execution of work, and operation and maintenance of sidings.