Thursday Feb 03, 2022
KARACHI: Following the extraction of the first shovel of lignite coal in Thar Block 1 earlier this week, Sino Sindh Resources (Pvt) Limited (SSRL) on Wednesday has announced that the development will go a long way in solving Pakistan’s long-standing energy crisis.
On January 31, 2022, the first shovel of lignite coal was extracted at the coal pit of Block 1 in the Thar coalfields near Islamkot. Block 1 is Pakistan’s largest coal mine with reserves of over 3 billion tons (or over 5 billion barrels of crude oil equivalent) with an annual output of 7.8 million tons per annum in just the first phase alone. It is owned and operated by SSRL, whose majority shareholder is Shanghai Electric Group.
Chief Executive Officer of SSRL Li Jigen said: “It’s a huge step forward. This first shovel of coal will go a long way towards solving the energy crisis, employment generation, and allied developments resulting in commercial and other economic activities in Thar region."
“The development of indigenous resource base at Thar will go a long way towards Pakistan achieving its long-cherished goal of energy security and economic security and sovereignty," he added.
The Thar coal project is indeed a game-changer. Thar coal can be used in power generation at the mine mouth and to substitute imported coal and also be used to produce all manner of chemicals which Pakistan is currently importing.
“The vision of successive Pakistan governments and the unflinching support of our Chinese leadership and brothers has now made the dream of Thar into a reality,” said Ligen.
Thar Block 1 is classified as an “Early Harvest Project - EHP” under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is a flagship project of China’s historic Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to bring unparalleled levels of infrastructure and development to countries falling under the BRI.
SSRL received an allocation of Thar–Coal Block 1 to develop an open-pit coal mine on September 19, 2011.
On May 24, 2012, SSRL was granted a mining lease and the project was included in the Joint Energy Working Group (JEWG) by the government of Pakistan and China. As soon as both the governments officially announced CPEC in 2013, the project was included in CPEC as a part of the Early Harvest programme.
After becoming part of the EHP of CPEC energy projects agreed upon between the governments of Pakistan and China, SSRL was fortunate to receive all-around support from both the governments as well as from the government of Sindh.
After back to back meetings between SSRL and Shanghai Electric Group and the Government of Sindh Energy Department, the first excavation started for the development of the largest open-pit Coal mine in Block 1 on January 23, 2019.
Financial close for the project was achieved on December 31, 2019. Soon after the first excavation, SSRL management started importing mining equipment from China and by July 2020, all the required equipment was at the project site.
After the arrival of machinery SSRL management and its sub-contractors worked in full capacity day and night despite all the challenges (COVID-19 pandemic, hot weather, dewatering, etc.), the first layer of coal was explored in extremely good condition on January 31, 2022.
This achievement was only achievable after joint and well-coordinated efforts of our EPC contractors, SSRL engineering/management team, and all other employees at the project site.