India’s leading coal miner, Coal India, has offered assistance to Pakistan in extracting Thar lignite coal as well as setting up a coal-based mega power plant in Thar, chairman Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC), told reporters on Monday.
Chairman Zubair Motiwala said that Coal India had proposed two options: selling Pakistani coal to them at international market rates or buying electricity from the proposed power plant against the sale of coal.
Motiwala said that the proposal is under consideration and the final decision would be taken by the federal government after the general elections.
According to reports, discussions with the Coal India’s subsidiary Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDIL) are underway to share expertise on how to effectively and economically mine a vast but difficult lignite deposit.
An official at the company said that India is digging out 550 million tons of coal every year from the coalfields in Rajasthan and others, which were quite similar to Thar. He noted that is more economically feasible to acquire technology and expertise from neighbouring countries instead of opting for European companies.
SECMC plans to setup a 1,200MW coal-powered power plant in Thar and conduct open cast mining of coal, with an investment of $3 billion. The Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company is a joint venture between the government of Sindh and Engro Powergen, to mine coal from Thar Bloc II.
Although the project is in its early stages of technical and economic feasibility assessments, the company aims at utilising ample coal reserves in the Thar desert for power generation. The government has decided that only Thar coal would be used for coal-based power generation in the future and all conversions of the existing and construction of new power projects would be designed on Thar coal specifications.