Officials at a major Pakistani coal mining company operating in the desert region of Thar has said the firm would seek guidance from the foreign office on launching exports to India as Pakistan scales up its mineral extraction activity in an area that holds over 95 percent of the country’s known coal reserves.
According to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s Energy Planning Report, Pakistan has 186 billion tons of coal deposits of which 175 billion tons are in the remote Thar region in the country’s southern Sindh province. In terms of energy, these coal deposits are equivalent to 50 billion tons of oil — more than Saudi and Iranian oil reserves combined.
Arab News reported that India and Pakistan both share the Thar region. The Indian side started power generation back in the 1950s and utilized all its reserves, which were equivalent to eight percent of Pakistan’s total Thar coal deposits. But while Pakistan’s Thar reserves were discovered in 1980, they continue to remain largely untapped.
Pakistani mining companies are now weighing multiple options to utilize the coal reserves, including their conversion into gas and liquid fuels and export to other countries.
“Across the border, India has installed some 8,000-megawatts power plants that are designed to use the same coal,” Ahmed Muneeb, general manager administration and external affairs at Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) said this week while briefing a group of journalists in Thar. “India is importing coal, which can be supplied from Pakistan.”
However, he said that the company would abide by the Pakistan’s foreign policy stance.
Pakistan is currently generating some 660 megawatts of electricity from Thar coal under the CPEC framework which is expected to increase by about 2,000 megawatts by next year. Pakistan has divided Thar in 13 blocks for coal extraction, and only the first two blocks are operational.
Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company is operating in Block-II while Shanghai Electric has started mining Block-I where the first layer of a 3 billion ton of deposit was unearthed by the end of January 2022.
Pakistan is also expected to supply coal to local power stations in the future after making slight modifications to the existing designs of these plants.
“Thar coal can be supplied to local power plants which are currently utilizing imported coal,” Muneeb said. “We are already supplying coal from Thar to Lucky group’s power project that is located in Karachi.”
Pakistan’s power generation is continuously increasing by 8.9 percent to 11,824 megawatts during January 2022 as compared to 10,859 megawatts generated a year before.
During the last month, the fuel cost for power generation increased by 102 percent to Rs12.22 kilowatts per hour. Power generation through coal remained the top source with 2,917 megawatts which is 14 percent higher than last year.