Exploiting Thar reserves: Establishment of coal ministry suggested

Despite having large coal deposits, they remain unexploited to date

Ppi July 20, 2015
Despite having large coal deposits, they remain unexploited to date. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The precious Thar coal is lying unexploited due to want of coordinated efforts and the government should consider establishing a coal ministry to exploit the potential, suggested the patron of Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders, Shahid Rasheed Butt.

Speaking to the business community, he said Pakistan had emerged as one of the leading countries, seventh in the list of top 20, in terms of reserves after the discovery of lignite coal.

“Coal reserves estimated at 175 billion tons were discovered 23 years ago but these could not be put to use to date despite the fact that they could meet the country’s and neighbouring nations’ requirements for centuries.”

He said different federal and provincial departments had only wasted time and funds and made the situation worse.

“Pakistan is yet to claim any success on the coal front, when we know that coal has met nearly half of the rise in global energy demand over the last decade. Its demand is growing faster than all the renewables with 1,004 billion tons of reserves still left, equivalent to 130 years of global output.”

He highlighted the fact that the use of coal in India continued to rise and by 2025, it would overtake the United States as the world’s largest consumer. “This means India will need more coal imports and Thar coal may be its most economical source.”

India currently imports coal from Indonesia, South Africa and Australia to bridge the annual deficit of 204 million tons.

According to the World Coal Association, presently India is producing around 585 million tons and importing around 105 million tons.

He was of the view that converting captive power plants to coal might resolve the gas crisis, while conversion of state-run power plants could address the issue of budget deficit.

“The economy’s steady drift towards collapse can be averted if a powerful coal ministry or a regulatory authority is established,” he added. 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st,  2015.

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