China and India will likely suffer huge layoffs as a result of mine closures by 2050, according to Global Energy Monitor (GEM), a non-governmental organisation that supports the global movement for clean energy transition.
GEM’s Global Coal Mine Tracker is a database of coal mines’ operational time remaining based on existing leases, permits, available reserves, and other economic considerations, referred to as the “life of mine” (LOM). When that information is unavailable, GEM collects data on reserves-to-production ratios, which are used in the industry to determine how long a mine can extract coal at its current output, the organisation explained.
According to projected closure dates, nearly 990,200 coal mine jobs will be gone by 2050 at nearly 1,000 coal mines. In India, Coal India Limited (CIL) will have to get rid of 73,800 jobs by then. CIL currently employs 337,400 people, but this figure does not include informal workers in India’s coal mining sector.
The share of coal mining employment is concentrated in eastern India in the states of Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and West Bengal and constitutes 1–2 per cent of the state workforce. India is yet to decide on the peak coal year and is continuing to increase coal production to ensure energy security, the analysis said.
Another study discovered a total of 20 thermal plants with a combined capacity of 27.4 gigatonnes are currently being built and will most likely be included in national capacity by the end of 2027-2028.
On a global scale, seven per cent or 195,200 miners currently employed by the coal industry will lose their jobs before 2030, according to GEM’s data. By 2035, operators could further reduce the current global mining workforce by 15 per cent (414,200), equivalent to nearly 100 workers per day. Furthermore, by 2040 mines with LOMs ending before 2040 could see a 22 per cent reduction (581,800 miners) in the current global workforce, the report said.
The regions with the greatest potential for layoffs include China, India, Poland and South Africa. Of which, China’s Shanxi province will have the biggest job losses, amounting to nearly a quarter of a million or 241,900 by 2050.
Despite countries not making transparent climate commitments to phase out coal, the world’s 10 largest coal-producing companies may have to let go of 243,100 coal mining jobs by 2050, equivalent to over one-third or 37 per cent of the existing workforce in the coal industry.
The ten companies include Coal India, China Energy, Jinneng Group, Shandong Energy, China Coal, Glencore, Shanxi Coking Coal Group, Peabody Energy, Shaanxi Coal and Chemical Industry Group, and Siberian Coal Energy Company (SUEK). They are collectively responsible for nearly 30 per cent of the world’s total coal production with approximately 694,800 coal miners.
As of today, 3,232 active coal mines employ nearly 2.7 million workers in 70 countries that produce more than 90 per cent of the world’s coal, according to GEM’s workforce data. Over 80 per cent, are based in Asia. Three countries, namely China, India and Indonesia are the top coal-producing countries. Together, they have three times the number of coal miners as the rest of the world combined, the report said.
A factor working in India’s favour is the addition of jobs in the renewable energy industry, in the spheres of installation, operation, and maintenance. According to a 2023 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency in the fiscal year 2022, India’s solar and wind sectors added about 105,400 jobs. In total, the renewable energy industry in India employed 988,000 in 2022.
The coal industry can extend the life of a mine by raising finance and acquiring property rights and new permits. Of the 426 coal mine projects under development, 113 coal mine projects have extension or expansion plants. Among the operations that are actively pursuing plans to prolong mining, most are located in China (36), Australia (21), India (15) and Russia (13), the GEM report found.
“The lag in just transition policy action owes much to the scope and scale of the challenge ahead. Public policymakers and planners have acknowledged the uncertainty about the best practices and toolkits necessary for a secure transition, and a general lack of information on global and local workforces,” the report said.
“In India, the concept of just transition is still largely unknown to a wide range of stakeholders, and the government has no plan to introduce a just transition policy to its national policy framework,” the report added.
This kind of work is very crucial for understanding the social-economic implications of energy transition, said Sandeep Pai, director, Swaniti Initiative that ensures delivery of public service programmes to the last mile said in a press release.
“Specifically, this level of data would go a long way in shaping transition policies for fossil fuel workers around the world. For example, this kind of baseline data could help estimate the scale of job creation required for transitioning workers in the fossil fuel industry,” he said.
Source: Down To Earth