As India aims to attain net zero emissions status by 2070, the country's largest coal miner, Coal India Ltd, will be the most affected company, with around 73,800 layoffs expected by 2050, according to the latest research report by the US-based think tank Global Energy Monitor (GEM) shows.

Apart from India, six Chinese companies, including China Energy, Jinneng Group, Shandong Energy, China Coal, Shaanxi Coal, and Chemical Industry Group, are in the top 10 potential losers in coal mining employment.

These top 10 coal producers are collectively responsible for nearly 30% of the world’s total coal production and employ around 694,800 coal miners. The report predicts up to one-quarter of a million miners, 243,100, in these companies could be laid off due to life of mine (LOM) closures before 2050.

China’s Jinneng Group and Shandong Energy could together shed 104,500 workers by 2050, it adds.

The think tank says the projected layoffs in major coal-producing countries could occur in the 2030s and 2040s as numerous coal mines in GEM’s 'Global Coal Mine Tracker' are approaching the end of their operational lifespan in the next 25 years.

"China will witness the most substantial portion of these potential layoffs, with more than half a million miners facing the risk of job losses in those two decades. India ranks second in terms of potential layoffs during the same periods," the report adds.

Since all three, including Coal India, Jinneng and Shandong, are also the major state-owned operators, the report suggests it's imperative for governments to remain involved in planning for coal worker transitions.

The coal mining industry today employs nearly 2.7 million such workers in 70 countries at 3,232 active coal mines that produce more than 90% of the world’s coal, according to GEM’s workforce data.

The majority of these coal miners, over 80%, are based in Asia. China, India, and Indonesia—the top three coal-producing countries—together have three times the number of coal miners as the rest of the world combined.

China has over 1.5 million coal miners who produce over 85% of its coal, which accounts for half of the world’s output. India, the second largest coal producer, has a workforce about half the size of China’s Shanxi province. The country employs 3,37,400 miners at its operating mines, though studies suggest the local mining sector has four “informal” employees for every one direct employee.

The report finds out that in light of India’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2070, Coal India is also making efforts towards “diversification” by shifting its focus to renewable energy, particularly solar power. "...the company is actively implementing a 3GW solar power program by 2025–2026.”

The report says the specific timeline for reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions remains undisclosed, but the director of Coal India earlier this year said, “This transition is going to take place . . . the current situation cannot continue forever. This carbon emission has to be reduced if the world is to survive.”

In India, coal mining employment in the powerhouses of Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and West Bengal make up 1–2% of the state workforce.

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