Coal extraction in Thar


SINDH Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) on Sunday successfully struck coal extraction from first seam of the open-pit mine at Thar Coal Block-II from a depth of 140 meters below the surface. The first chunks of coal come from an estimated 2.04 billion tons of coal reserves after successful dewatering of the second aquifer, five months ahead of schedule.
The announcement by the Chief Executive Officer of the SECMC is positive as the success signals bright prospects for utilisation of Thar coal deposits that have the potential to address energy woes of Pakistan. He pointed out that this is the moment for which all Pakistanis had been waiting for the past 25 years, ever since coal was first discovered in Thar. Thar coal has been declared as lignite type, and spreads nearly 10,600 square kilometres with power generation potential of 100,000 MW consuming 536 million tons a year. Experts say that development of the Thar coal is the only viable long-term solution for meeting energy demands of the country as it would provide cheaper fuel for power production which would result in saving of precious foreign exchange currently being spent on import of oil for power generation.
This also means long term and sustainable solution of the chronic problem of circular debt that is rising with the passage of every day. However, there were conflicting reports and rumours about quality and efficiency of the Thar coal and apprehensions prevailed among general public that oil import lobby was preventing exploitation of these reserves for its own vested interests. SECMC, therefore, deserves credit for working with commitment and its efforts have helped dispel such apprehensions as it has struck coal. There would be practical demonstration of this potential when a full-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 2018. We are sure that this success would encourage local and foreign companies to invest in coal production and power generation in Thar in a big way. However, keeping in mind growing pollution in our cities and the perils of climate change, our priorities must clearly aim more clean and green methods of producing electricity.