SCA develops 12 coal blocks in Thar; more in pipeline

The Sindh Coal Authority (SCA) has developed 12 blocks in the Thar coalfield and is working on developing more blocks. 

Located in the southeastern part of Sindh, the Thar Coal Field is one of the world’s largest sufficient to meet Pakistan’s fuel requirement for centuries. It is located about 380km east of Karachi and is spread over an area of more than 9,500sqkm.

The coal found here is lignite A and B with low sulphur content suitable to be used as a dependable source of energy to achieve the objective of self-reliance in the power sector. The total coal reserves are over 175.506 billion tonnes.

Out of the total developed blocks, four have been allocated to various companies for coal mining and utilization for power, Munnawar Abbasi, Project Director of Thar Coal in the Sindh Energy Department, told WealthPK.

He said Block-I had been allocated to the Sino Sindh Resources (Pvt.) Ltd, Block-II to Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company, Block-3 to Sindh Carbon Energy Ltd and Block-4 to Pilot Project of UCG.
This coal reserve can help Pakistan save foreign exchange by generating power domestically rather than importing coal and gas. As per government estimates, the maximum utilization of Thar coal can help Pakistan save $6 billion annually, which has to be spent on importing coal and gas every year.

The Sindh government has encouraged investors to invest and work in Thar for power generation, Saeed Querashi, Sindh Energy Development Board Director, told WealthPK.

He said two coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of 1,650MW had been inaugurated some time back in the Thar desert. The two plants are 1,320MW Shanghai Electric power plant and 330MW Thal Nova power plant. The two plants, which required an estimated investment of $3.53 billion, are part of the Thar Coal Electricity Integration project and were built under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework.

The 1,320MW power plant, developed by China’s Shanghai Electric Group, started commercial operations in late February 2023 and is expected to generate about nine TWh/year of electricity, enough for four million Pakistani households.

The 330MW Thal Nova lignite-fired power plant, developed by Hubco, Thal Limited, Novatex Limited and China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC), started producing power in December 2022 and entered the commercial operations in February 2023, Qureshi said. 
Another project is under planning, which aims to convert coal to gas to meet the country’s energy needs.

He said the coal gasification component of the Thar project has the potential to provide more affordable urea/fertilizer for a country which has an agro-based economy. The coal gasification initiative will use the indigenous fuel for fertilizer production and will also assist with Pakistan's food security planning.

The Sindh Energy Development Board director said Thar coal is a huge treasure of energy, which needs to be exploited for meeting the country’s power needs.

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