Coal India Ltd (CIL), which meets about 80% of the country's coal requirements, faces serious difficulties in stepping up its coal production even as the domestic demand for coal grows at a fast pace, thanks to capacity addition in key sectors like power, cement and steel. Growing environmental hurdles to mining operations in India have forced the world's largest coal miner to look at acquisition of overseas coal assets to meet domestic demand and keep growing.

Economists divided factors of production in four categories - land, labor, capital and entrepreneur. Anything that goes into production can be put in any of these four categories. Land is the primary factor of production since all natural resources fall in this broad category.

The coal sector has played a key role in India's emergence as a global economic power. Minister of State for Coal Sriprakash Jaiswal, who also handles the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, fully understands the weight of expectations and the challenges faced by the coal sector.

Profit sharing by mining firms might open an window of innovative accounting, says the author.

If the news of alleged illegal mining in Karnataka by the Reddy brothers has generated much controversy, not far behind is the mineral-rich state of Odisha. RTI applications filed in the Odisha Pollution Control Board (OPCB) and State Forest Department have disclosed that illegal mining worth above 2,000 crore is being carried out by Essel Mining & Industries Ltd of the Aditya Birla Group.

It is for the politicians to act and prevent merchant miners, national or international, to play further havoc with the rich mineral assets of the country.

Vedanta's projects in Orissa have faced adverse judgement from the Supreme Court and mounting protest from the locals. Despite such handicaps Vedanata chairman Anil Agarwal claimed in Orissa after the state's Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik that the projects were progressing as per schedule.

Almost 90% of the world's largest mining companies expect to grow through acquisition in the next two years, according to a new global report, "The year of the hunters and the hunted", released by Ernst & Young.

Chhattisgarh has rich iron ore deposit. The state is the most sought after location for the steel manufacturers. With the unchecked rise of steel prices the steelmakers want mining leases in the state at any cost. This has provided a new opportunity for many - opportunity to make some quick money.

There are 229 identified coal blocks for allocation to specified end users and government companies on display on the website of Ministry of Coal. Till May 2008, as many as 182 coal blocks have been allocated to eligible companies. So far, production has commenced only in 13 blocks.