Sindh govt plans to expand coal mining in existing Thar blocks

The Sindh government plans to expand mining in the existing blocks in Thar coalfields in order to extract more coal for power generation. 

The mining of coal has been going on in two blocks with each producing 1,320MW of electricity. 
“This is the most economically viable option to expand the coal mining from the existing fields as the mining in the new block requires huge financing and investment,” said Musadiq Ahmed Khan, Sindh’s Energy Secretary. 

In an interview with WealthPK, he said that the expansion of mining in the existing blocks would lead to more coal available at cheap rates for producing electricity. 

“The investment and financing for the new block would push up the cost of coal, which wouldn’t be feasible for the companies to produce electricity,” he noted. 

Pakistan is presently grappling with high electricity costs, which have burdened consumers in the form of inflated power bills. Expensive imported fuels, LNG, diesel and foreign coal, have multiplied the cost of electricity in the country. 

Keeping that in view, the government has chalked out a plan to convert the imported coal-fired power plants into Thar coal in order to save the foreign exchange and reduce the cost of electricity. 

The Thar coalfield with a resource potential of 175 billion tonnes of coal covers an area of over 9,000 sq-km in the Thar Desert in Tharparkar district of Sindh. The investigated area is covered by stable sand dunes and there are no rock exposures. To establish the coal resources in six selected blocks a total of 237 holes were drilled.  

Thar Block-II alone contains two billion tonnes of lignite reserves, of which 1.57 billion tonnes are exploitable. Block-II can produce 5,000MW of electricity for 50 years. The Thar Block-1 integrated coal mine and power project involves a 7.8 million tonnes per annum open-pit coal mine and a 1.3GW ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant. 

Musadiq, the energy secretary, said that the government is planning to run Sahiwal, Bin Qasim and Hubco power plants on local coal. “We have been working on the plan to increase coal production from our current mines, aiming to supply the three plants that require affordable coal. This goal can only be achieved by expanding the mining operations within the existing blocks,” he said. 

He noted that the project would be expedited after the budget in Sindh as the provincial government is fully committed to further extracting the coal from the existing blocks under the national policy. He said Sindh is the energy hub of the country, contributing massively to the national grid.

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