MITHI: Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) on Sunday made history after successfully extracting coal from the first seam of the open-pit mine at Thar Coal Block II from a depth of 140 meters (460 feet) below the surface.
The first chunks of coal come from an estimated 2.04 billion tons of coal reserves after successfully dewatering the second aquifer, five months ahead of schedule.
The successful extraction of coal not only proves that Thar’s indigenous coal is exploitable but can help produce thousands of megawatts of cheap electricity for several decades, announced Shamsuddin Shaikh, the CEO of the SECMC after witnessing the coal extraction operation.
SECMC – a joint venture between the Sindh government and six private sponsors, including Engro Energy, Thal Ltd, Habib Bank Ltd, Hubco, and two Chinese companies CMEC and SPIC – is the largest public-private partnership in Pakistan for developing the country’s first open-pit coal mine with an annual output of 3.8 million tons.
The entire coal production will be supplied to Engro Powergen Thar Limited (EPTL) which is putting up a 2×330 MW mine-mouth power plant, scheduled to start power generation before the end of this year.
Both the projects are part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and are being built in collaboration with Chinese contractors.
Congratulating the nation, especially the people of Thar, Shaikh said that energy production from local energy resource will play a key role in overcoming the current energy crisis.
“This is the moment for which all Pakistanis had been waiting for the past 25 years, ever since coal was first discovered in Thar,” said Shaikh.
He thanked the sponsors of the mega project, lenders, federal and Sindh governments for supporting the project.
Commenting on SECMC’s performance, Shaikh said that the firm completed work spanning over 16 million safe man-hours while removing 90 million cubic meters of earth.
“We did this five months ahead of schedule, and targeting a savings of $110 million against the budgeted cost, all of which is unprecedented for a mega project like this.”
Sharing future plans, Shaikh said that the company planned to expand the mine’s optimum capacity, enabling it to produce 5,000MW by 2024.
Commenting on the CSR work being done by the company in Thar, Shaikh said that the firm was committed to developing Islamkot, enabling it to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2024.
Thar coal, the firm’s COO Syed Abul Fazal Rizvi said, was mostly lignite that was well-suited for power production. With a cumulative thickness of as much as 26 meters, coal reserves in Block-II were enough to produce 5,000MW for the next 50 years, Rizvi said.
He said that a fully-fledged coal supply would start from the third quarter of this year and the electricity generation would start from the EPTL power plant in December this year.
According to him, the people of Thar would be the “real beneficiary of this black gold”.