Thar coal project progressing five-month ahead of schedule: SECMC CEO

KARACHI, Sept 28 (APP): Thar coal project is progressing five months  ahead of schedule and it will add 660 mega watts electricity to the national grid by 2019, which will change the energy scenario in the country.

This milestone has been achieved with the support and facilitation by  both federal and provincial governments to make this mega project a success story, said Chief Executive Officer of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC), Shamsuddin Ahmed Shaikh, in an interview to APP here.

The first phase of the project based on two plants of 330 MW each will  cost 1.1 billion dollars.It has 75 percent foreign and 25 percent local financing.

Shamsuddin Shaikh pointed out that SECMC’s production schedule is 38  months. “We are five months ahead of schedule.Of total 112 million cubic metres excavation, we have done 7 mln cubic metres,” he added.

The two power plants and mining in block two of Thar coal would cost 3.2  bln dollars. Fifty Pakistani and three Chinese banks are financing this project. Engro Corporation and the Sindh government are the main sponsors, he said.

The SECMC CEO said the Federal and Sindh governments were very keen to  see this mega project operational at the earliest. “There is a big pressure on us from both the governments. We are going as fast as we can,” he remarked.

The Sindh government had constructed high standard roads network in Thar  district; especially linking coal deposit areas to highways and cities. The Federal government was setting up international airport there. A big dam and an effluent treatment plant were being constructed near the coal mines, he informed.

The Federal government was also working on a transmission line to link  power generation plants from Thar coal with the national grid, he said.

Both mining and power plants were being built according to the National  Environment Quality Standards (NEQS) to ensure clean environment.Third generation technology was being used in mining and power generation.The boilers were being built with European technology, he said.

The SECMC CEO said among total 2,028 workers, 997 were natives of Thar  district who included semi-skilled manpower, 647 were Chinese and 384 belonged to different parts of the country.

For maximum participation of Tharis in Thar coal and other affiliated  projects, and for their economic empowerment in general, SECMC along with other organisations had launched different training programmes.

The main initiatives in social front were Hunar Foundation Programme, a 70-bed hospital in collaboration with Indus Hospital, Marvi Mother and Child Clinic, schools at different locations in partnership with The Citizen Foundation (TCF).

As a part of resettlement action plan, modern residential colonies were  being constructed for the local people who would be displaced from Block-II area of Thar Coal deposits.

Each housing unit would spread over 10,000 square feet with covered area of 2,000 square feet. It would consist 3 bed rooms, kitchen, store, toilet and washroom, he said.

The dislocation of around six and a half thousand population from two main villages–Senhri Dars and Tharyo Halepoto–and ten other small settlements was on the cards for mining purpose.

“We are working on health, education, roads, employment and preservation  of culture in the area attached to the project,” he elaborated.

Shamsuddin Shaikh said 18,000 acres of land was required for the  project, out of which 6,000 acres had been acquired so far from the Sindh government.

He said the need for energy was gradually increasing, as 15,000 mega watt was required at the moment. Till 2040, the need would rise to 100,000 mega watt because of population growth and fast urbanization.

After various studies on different sources of electricity production, it  was concluded that producing electricity from Thar coal would be the most beneficial to the country.

Out of 186 billion tons of coal available in Pakistan, 175 billion tons  was present only in Thar. Thar coal had more heating than that of oil found from Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Thar coal had 68 times more potential compared to total gas reserves in the country.

Shamsuddin said the total area of Thar coal spans over 9,000  kilometres, which was divided into 13 blocks. The quality and cost compared favourably with other lignite mines in the world. The lignite could be used in mine-mouth power plants and could also be transported to other countries. The heating value was feasible for mine operation.

He expressed confidence that Thar coal project would be promising for socio-economic development of the country.