Thar Coal project to prove as 'game-changer' for Pakistan: PM Shehbaz

Thar Coal project to prove as 'game-changer' for Pakistan: PM Shehbaz

Thar (Web Desk): Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday said amid the skyrocketing fuel prices, the cheaper energy production from the Thar Coal Mines project would prove as a game-changer of development for the entire country.

Addressing the inauguration of the commercial operations of Phase-II of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) during his visit to Thar Coal Mines Block-II, the prime minister said the Thar Coal project was high on the agenda for the government in view of the reduced cost of power generation.

"The Thar Coal Project could help the government save up to $6 billion as the expenditure on the import of energy including petrol and liquid petroleum touched $24 billion," the premier said.

The prime minister on the occasion inaugurated a 330 MW Power Plant of Thar Energy Limited (TEL) and also inspected the construction site of SECMC Mine Phase-II at Islamkot.

PM Shehbaz said that not benefitting from the country’s indigenous coal reserves was a huge mistake and announced to convene a meeting of stakeholders on Thar Coal mines next week to discuss formalities.

"The federal government in collaboration with the Sindh government would chalk out a policy framework on the Thar Coal mines project, with an objective to connect it with other rest of coal-powered power plants in the country producing 4,000 megawatts," he said.

PM Shehbaz mentioned that the international cost of coal had come down from $67 to $44 and had prospects of further reduction up to $ 30.

He said that coal-powered plants would prove a feasible operation for electricity production at the rate of Rs 10 per unit.

The prime minister said that the Thar Coal project would save the country’s foreign exchange and help thrive the national economy.

He said that the Thar Coal Mines project would be connected through a freight rail track in March 2023 for the transportation of coal to other parts of the country.

PM Shehbaz lauded the Sindh government, Hubco, the government of China, and the Chinese companies for training the local professionals and workers, and also appreciated the women working in the field including at water plants and dumping trucks.

He expressed satisfaction that Thar was undergoing fast development after former prime minister Benazir Bhutto first visited the area in 1996 and envisioned a prosperity plan for the locals.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Thar, once used to be known for malnutrition, and infant and maternal mortality rate had now emerged as a game changer and a public-partnership model of development.

He mentioned that the Thar Coal Mines project had contributed to the provision of job opportunities to the local people of Thar, thus improving their lifestyles. 

FM Bilawal said under public-partnership projects, the barren desert of Thar was now witnessing crop irrigation and fish breeding even with the use of hard water.

He stressed replicating the collaborative projects in other parts of the country and expressed confidence that the prime minister with his inspiring 'Shehbaz Speed' would materialize the development plans at a fast pace.

Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah said the Sindh government allocated 40 percent equity along with 60 percent contributed by Sindh Engro in the public-private partnership on Thar Coal mines project.

"Had the work on Thar coal not stalled since its first mining of reserves in 1991, the project would have produced 10,000 megawatts," the Sindh CM said.

He termed Sindh province as the 'energy basket of Pakistan', with immense potential of natural energy resources, including solar and wind energy.

Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong congratulated the government of Pakistan on the successful completion of the project and lauded Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for his “consistent devotion and firm support” in strengthening Pakistan-China cooperation including in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

He hoped that the new power block would help overcome energy shortage, and provide reliable and affordable electricity.

The envoy thanked the Pakistan army for providing foolproof security to the Chinese professionals working in the country.

"As an 'Iron brother', China would be happy to continue assisting Pakistan to help it achieve prosperity," Mr Nong Rong.

The Sindh CM also presented samples of indigenous Thar coal to PM Shehbaz Sharif, FM Bilawal Bhutto, and the Chinese envoy.

Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, senior officials, and representatives of Chinese companies were present.