KARACHI: Pakistan has the capacity to produce 100,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity for the next 200 years as the country has reserves of coal comparing to combined oil reserves in energy equivalent terms of Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Chief Executive Officer Shamsuddin Shaikh of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) said government of Sindh and Engro Powergen Limited has a Joint Venture (JV) in this regard. Khurshid Jamali Chairman Board of Directors (BoD) of SECMC was also present.
Shaikh said there was an estimated 170 billion tones coal reserves to satisfy the energy needs of Pakistan. The reserves are buried deep under the desert sands and are separated by the reservoirs of fossilised aquifers. While there is high moisture, the sulphur content of Thar Coal is low, making it more environmentally attractive.
Thar Coalfield with a resource potential of 175 billion tonnes of coal covers an area of over 9,000 square kilometers (km) in the Thar Desert in Tharparkar district in southeastern part of Sindh.
At the optimum capacity of 4,000 MW, power produced from Thar Coal can yield a tariff of approximately 6.0 cents per kilowatt (kwt). This is the cheapest option currently available to our decision makers. Additionally, it is approximately 50 percent cheaper than RFO based power generation.
SECMC has been working on the project for the past 4-5years. Engro as managers of the project has been working on the technical and commercial aspects whereas government of Sindh is developing the requisite infrastructure for the project.
As developer of Thar Block-II, SECMC plans to expand the mine in phases and reach a sustainable capacity of coal output for the production of 4,000 MW for more than 50 years.
Phase-I of the project envisages mining operation of 3.8 million tonnes per annum of coal to be utilised by mine-mouth 660 MW power plants for 30 years.
A wholly owned subsidiary Thar Power Company (THARCO) was incorporated in 2013 with an objective developing the power plant designed to operate on Thar Coal.
The total investment for the integrated project is estimated to be $1.7 billion where China will fuel the project with investment, labour and machineries.
Subsequent to government of Pakistan’s consent to provide Sovereign Guarantee for Debt portion of mining subject to government of Sindh being the majority shareholder in SECMC, the JV agreement has been amended to increase shareholding of Centre to 51 percent. However, management control of the project will remain with Engro.
Company has achieved substantial progress on the mining and power project during the year. Firm EPC bids have been received from leading Chinese firms and final announcement is expected by end of this month. Around 6,000 acres of land has been acquired for which no resettlement was required.
A public hearing of Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) was held last month apprised the stakeholders on environmental and socio-economic impacts of the Power Plant project and approval was expected by the next month.
Environment approval for mining project was received last year. Finally on April 30, 2014, the work for 113 million cubic meter overburden removal in Thar Block-II started.
Furthermore, infrastructure requirements including water, transportation and power transmission line from Thar to Matiari are being pursued actively with relevant authorities/agencies. The integrated project is expected to come online by December 2017.
A number of local industrial groups and investors are going to join hands with SECMC to make this project a reality.
The project will also bring socio-economic benefits for the poor people of Thar as the project will catalyse the creation of social assets, medical facilities, educational institutions and infrastructural development and job opportunities.
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