The coal mining industry is booming in India where a new mine is opened every month. In their push to compete on the global stage, Asian countries like India are increasingly looking to coal to power their economies and feed their growing energy demands. Officials in India's coal ministry said despite a push for renewable energy sources, coal will continue to win out.
"For us, environmental issues are non-negotiable. But looking at the requirements of development, looking at our energy needs I think coal will continue to be the primary source of energy within the country," said India's coal secretary, Anil Swarup.
The rush to burn more coal comes as the world's major economies, including leading emitters China and the US, have agreed to start cutting greenhouse gases over the next 15 years. The topic will be addressed by the some 200 nations attending the UN climate change summit in Paris later this month. But for countries like India, renewable energy sources can't compete with coal which provides cheap energy and creates jobs.
"Coal, being the cheapest source of energy, provides mass employment at the same time – which is essential for a poor country like ours. Coal must continue unless renewable energy comes to a point where it is comparable with the coal," Gopal Singh, chairman of Central Coalfields said.
China, India and Indonesia now burn 71% of the world's newly mined coal according to the World Coal Association, with new European and North American consumption negligible as their countries turn to cleaner energy.