After reaching 90 meters depth at Thar coal block II mining site, the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) said on Thursday that mine dewatering process is successfully underway from all three aquifers.
“As per expectation, we did not face any difficulty in emptying out the three aquifers,” said Chief Executive Officer of SECMC Shamsuddin Ahmed Shaikh said.
He said besides mining operations, water extraction process from the second and third aquifer through pumps from 120 and 180 meters depth was also underway.
However, he said that the company had to struggle a bit in draining water from the third aquifer as it seemed that underground lake existed above coal reserves.
Mr Shaikh said that pumping water from third aquifer was a real challenge as the underground lake is being recharged continuously but he added, challenge has been addressed successfully in a timely manner.
“Dewatering will be a continuous process even after mining operation and during extracting coal from the reserves”, he said adding that dewatering would be possible only when more water will be pumped out than the amount of water being recharged.
To a question, the CEO of SECMC explained that the underground water is saline in nature and it is being stored in a water reservoir about 26 kilometers away from the mining site.
“Despite being brackish, we are using this water to grow crops compatible to local weather under a pilot program,” added Mr. Shaikh.
Meanwhile Chief Operating Officer of the Company, Syed Abul Fazal Rizvi told this scribe that the water drained from the underground at the site would not create problems as it would be utilized at later stage when the two Thar Coal Power projects of 660 MW constructed at the mouth of the mine would start their operational work.
“After recycling, this water would be supplied to the power plants for cooling purposes which would be a continuous process”, he added. Thar is home to 175 billion tons of reserves, and it is the 7th largest coal reserves in the world, and the largest untapped coal reserves.
Coal mining project has been undertaken for the first time with combined efforts of SECMC, the Sindh government and China Power International.
The project is also a part of the mega project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“CPEC was crucial to the development of Thar Coal as it enabled the projects to achieve financial close and move into execution”, Shamduddin Ahmed Shaikh said.
He informed that work on the coal mining project was going on smoothly and it is hoped that “we will reach at the coal level by end of next year.
“As soon as supply of coal to the power plants starts, the commercial operation by the plants would be started and it is expected that by end of next year or early 2019, first unit of the four power plants would start its commercial operation”, Shaikh remarked.
He explained that besides coal mining operation, work on 660 MW power plants comprising 2 units of 330MW each, costing $2.1 billion on the mouth of mine was also underway four months ahead of schedule.