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North Eastern Coalfields is a Unit of Coal India Limited qwerty, a Company registered under Companies Act, 1956 in India and having its registered office at CoalBhawan, Premise No-04 MAR, Plot No-AF-III, Action Area-1A, Newtown,Rajarhat,Kolkata-700156 and is under Direct control of Coal India Limited. North Eastern Coalfields (NEC) is operating in Margherita in Tinsukia District of the state of Assam. The North Eastern Coal Fields, a division of the Public Sector giant COAL INDIA LTD. having it's headquarter at Margherita, Tinsukia, Assam is looking after the coal mining activities in the North Eastern Region.

The mines of North Eastern Coalfields of Coal India Ltd. a Govt. of India Enterprise are situated near the coal mining town of Margherita, in the district of Tinsukia, Assam. One can easily reach Margherita by Train or by road, which is 50Km. from Tinsukia and 87 Km. from Dibrugarh Air-port. Regular flight and train services are available from New- Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati to Dibrugarh and Tinsukia. North Eastern Coalfields (NEC) is headed directly by owner,Director(Technical) of Coal India Ltd ,Kolkata. North Eastern Coalfields (NEC) not only provides employment opportunities but is also churning out "Black Diamond" amidst several deterrence for more than a century. Going to the history of coal mining in Assam, coal was first discovered in this region 250 years ago. A civil surgeon Dr. John Berry White played a significant role in the early development of Assam's mineral resources and opening of mines in Makum coalfields. Mr. George Turner, a mining engineer from South Staffordshire initiated mining activities by transforming the jungles and coal out crops in the area into prosperous collieries in a few years time. Mining of coal was first started in Assam near Safrai and systematic mining was initiated in 1882 by the Erstwhile Assam Railways & Trading company (AR & T Co.) at Makum coalfields near Margherita, Assam.

The establishments of these mines were of great importance for the Tea industry which was dependent upon wood fuel and for the railways and plywood industry. Since coal mining conditions in this region is one of the toughest in the world, the chief Inspector of mines in India once in his report (1929) referred to the coalfield of NE as being "where the worst natural conditions of all the coal mines in India have to be faced".

The above mentioned mines operated under AR & T Co. till they were nationalized in the year 1973 and were taken over by Coal India Ltd. in the year 1975. Coal India Ltd. being the largest corporate employer in the world got the status as "Maharatna Company" on April 2011.

It is to be noted that out of India's coal reserves of about 220 billion tones, only 0.90 billion tones occur in the North Eastern region which is about 0.4% of the total coal reserves of India.



The Makum coalfields expands from Naga patkai hills ranges from Sibsagar in Assam to Noa Dihing in Arunachal Pradesh in a distance of about 250 Km. and lies between Latitude 27degree 15' and 27degree 24'N and Longitude 95degree 40' and 95degree 59'E (Approx). The general topography of the coalfield consists of hills with altitude 300m -500m above MSL and is intersected by a number of rivers.

The general strike of the seam is along NE-SW. Coal seams are in the form of asymmetrical syncline known as Namdang syncline located between Margherita thrust in North and Haflong- Disang thrust in the south. The southern limb of Namdang syncline is steeply inclined (55-90 degree). The anticlinal zone is covered by Tirap and Ledo and is popularly known as Ledo anticline. Northern limb of Ledo anticline has undergone a small synclinal folding leading to high geological disturbances.

In Makum coalfields, four coal seams known as 5 feet,8 feet, 20 feet, and 60 feet seam occurs. Out of which 20feet and 60feet seams are persistent and are being worked.

The tertiary coal of this coalfield is very friable in nature. Seams are highly gassy and liable to spontaneous heating. These coals are characterized by low moisture (2-5%), low ash (3-10%) and highly volatile matter (>40%) and high sulphur content (2-6%).

                          COAL RESERVES upto 300m depth (Million Tonnes)





Tikak Command Area




Tirap Command Area




Tipong Command Area







Prior to nationalization the coal mining in North eastern coalfield was not systematic,scientific and safe.The coal was extracted from mother earth by a method known as "Bhaska Method" where workers had to work under unsupported roof. In addition to being unsafe, this method had a very low percentage of extraction i.e < 25%.

After nationalization the old "Bhaska Method" was discarded and a new method of mining called Tipong Method or Chamber Method was adopted in 1977 under the leadership of the then General Manager, Mr. K.N. Sinha. This method was safe, scientific and has been approved by Directorate General of Mines Safety, Dhanbad. This was the only mining method in underground mines of NEC. This method of mining had percentage of extraction upto 40 %. Lot of coal was left in coal barriers and the method was labour intensive.

From 1985, the following Russian methods of mining suitable to geo-mining conditions of Makum coalfields were started under the guidance from erstwhile USSR experts.

                      C.K.Shield method

                      Non-Sectional shield method

                      Sectional Shield method

                      Flexible roofing method

The above mentioned methods increased the percentage of extraction upto 80% and increased the life of mine, removing the fire problem to a great extent. With the passage of time, unfortunately these said methods could not be continued for the following reasons.

                      The said methods requires high consumption of different types of timber and the supply of timber initially found to be adequate and later on supply was totally stopped due to Supreme Court order in respect of felling of trees.

                      Non- availability/ untimely supply of indigenous materials as required.

                      Non- availability of spare parts of different equipments.

                      Reduction of highly skilled persons for said methods of mining.   

Lastly, Tipong Method of Mining was being carried out in the three underground mines of NEC i.e. Baragolai UG Mine, Ledo UG Mine, Tipong UG Mine. However, after a mine accident at Ledo UG Mine, DGMS has withdrawn the permission for Tipong Method of Mining and directed to explore other suitable methods of mining. Under the aegis of Indo-European working group on coal and Ministry of Coal, a project report for Tipong Colliery is under preparation for implementation of underground mining technology as practiced in Spain(Sub-level Caving method) for similar coal formation. Presently only gallery development in stone and coal with limited numbers of headings is being carried out at Tipong to reach the boundary of the mine along of -7 Level horizon.


    Opencast Mine Operation of NEC and existing Status

The first Mechanized Opencast Mine of NEC came up in 1978 at Tikak when CMPDI prepared a Project Report on Baragolai OCP Hill Top Block. Thereafter, Tirap Opencast Mine started operation in 1984 and Ledo Opencast Mine started operation in 2008. The total present installed capacity of the Opencast Mine-

    Tirap Opencast Mine 0.5 Million Tonnes per year.

    Tikak Opencast Mine 0.4 Million Tonnes per year.

    Ledo Opencast Mine 0.15 Million Tonnes per year.


Both Coal and Overburden are being worked by Shovel-Dumper Combination. Due to high inclination and hilly terrain stripping ratio of mines goes as high as 11 cum. of overburden per Tonne of coal. Overburden removal and coal winning in all the opencast mines are outsourced.

North Eastern Coalfields have been made the 'Designated Custodian' of Namchik Namphuk Coal Mines (Arunachal Pradesh) as per Coal Mines (Special Provisions) 2nd Ordinance as per the directive of Ministry of Coal and Chairman Coal India Ltd wef 01.04.2015. Process of operating the mines on behalf of Central Government is in progress.


    Coal Supply Agreement between NEC & NTPC for Bongaigaon TPS Unit 1 & 2 of Assam


Agreement made on 8th August, 2013 between NEC and NTPC based on Letter of Assurance dated 30.05.2011. Bongaigaon TPS is going through a modernization process and the 1st Unit is expected to commence from 1st July 2014 and the 2nd Unit is expected to commence from 31st Mar 2015. Coal requirement for both the units is @0.625 Million Tonnes per unit/year, or a total 1.25 MTY per year from 2015 onwards for a period of 20 years. The modernization of the TPS and the Fuel supply agreement with NEC is as per Prime Ministers initiative in the year 2006, during the visit to Margherita by Dr.Manmohan Singh.




In order to meet the future demand of NE coal for proposed Bongaigaon Thermal power Plant and coal to oil conversion (CTL), following jobs have been taken up by NEC management.

1) Re-structuring of existing Tipong U/G mine.
2) To open Lekhapani open cast project
3) To open Tikak extension open cast project
4) To start Tirap phase II open cast project
5) To open Tipong open cast project.


    Corporate Social Responsibility

    Measures taken under CSR

  1)Welfare measures for the community at large including employees and their families, so as to ensure the poorer sections of the society derive max benefits.
2) Take care of landless and project affected persons. Proper rehabilitation of land ousters/displaced persons based on R&R policies separately formulated and the expenditure of R&R issues are included in the Project Cost.
3)Contribution to the society at large by way of social & cultural development, imparting education, training and social awareness specially with regard to the economically backward class for their development and generation of income to avoid any liability of employment.
4)Protection and safeguard of environment and maintaining ecological balance.


Besides extracting coal, North Eastern Coalfields is committed to preserve flora and fauna in its project affected areas, apart from checking and maintaining the environment pollutants within permissible limit. Further, NEC has developed socially relevant parks and centre, enchanting the glamour and prominence of the coal mining town of Margherita.

Various parks and centre developed by North Eastern Coalfields are :-
1) Butterfly Park at Tikak colliery.
2) Orchid garden at Tikak colliery.
3) Coal Heritage Park and Museum at Margherita.
4) Dr. Bhupen Hazarika children park at Margherita.
5) Cultural Centre at Margherita.

With the passage of time, advancement of technology and increasing market demand of NE coal, North Eastern Coalfields (NEC) shall strive to mine out the "Black Diamond" efficiently and effectively with due regard to safety, quality ,conservation and environment to meet the coal demand in the years to come.