The ministry of water and power is mulling over a proposal to convert oil-fuelled power plants onto coal so that they can be run on coal mined from Thar in the future. A Chinese firm is expected to start commercial mine development at Thar coalfields from October.
Sohail Rajput, the Coal and Energy Development secretary, said this on Saturday, as the Thar Coal and Energy Board met for the 15th time.
Rajput informed the participants that Sindh government has set aside Rs8.5 billion this year for infrastructure development schemes, including roads, water supply and disposal of wastewater at the coalfields. He said that the water and power ministry is working on the policy of conversion of oil-based power generation plants under independent power producers and generation companies on imported coal. “These retrofitted plants will be gradually shifted from imported coal to Thar coal in future, when coal from Thar would be available,” added Rajput, who is also the Thar Coal and Energy Board managing director.
Sindh-Engro Coal Mining Company CEO Shamsuddin Shaikh also supported the plan. He said that the existing power plants with the capacity of 5,500 megawatts can be converted to coal.
Zafar Mehmood, the water and power secretary, assured the Thar coal board that the government will issue a policy guideline to all stakeholders and a policy will be formulated to make the oil-based power plants compatible with the Thar coal.
Sheharyar Chishti, the Global Mining of China director, presented the progress report on their coal mining project. He said they will start mine development activities on sustainable basis from October and will be producing coal in commercial quantities through open-pit mining by the first quarter of 2015.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2012.