Thar Coal Project Starts, Can Power Pakistan For Over 100 Years

You may have heard about the term “Thar Coal Project” tossed around here and there on the media. It has been mentioned time and time again because of its massive potential and the governments ignoring it over the decades. While coal is environmentally unfriendly (Thar’s coal isn’t even top grade standard), it can be converted to gas and can be less damaging if utilised through proper techniques.

Thar – The Black Gold Mine

The Thar Coal Project is a coal mining project based in the Thar desert in Sindh. The prospected coal reserves in this area amount to a massive 175 Billion tonnes of coal. To put that into perspective, Pakistan’s total coal reserves are 186 billion tonnes. Thar contains 94 percent of Pakistan’s total coal reserves.


Thar coal reserves are greater than Saudi Arabia and Iran’s oil reserves

The amount of coal here is huge, so much so that it is even greater than the oil reserves in Saudi Arabia and Iran. When converted to gas the coal deposits equal 2,000 trillion cubic feet, which is 68 times higher than Pakistan’s current gas reserves.

Future Power Projects

You may be wondering, what are we doing with so much coal buried underneath? The Thar coal mining and power project has finally entered the construction phase and will be completed by June 2019. The power plant would generate 660 MW of power while coal mining will start from fourth quarter of 2018.

Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC), in partnership with the Sindh Government has been given Thar block-2 which contains less than 1% (1.57 billion tonnes) of the total coal in the area. This will be enough to generate 5,000 MW of energy for the next 50 years.

The financials of the project were finalized by April 2016 and it was estimated to take 42 months to complete. SECMC Chief Executive Officer Shamsuddin Ahmad Shaikh says,

We have achieved 9.5% progress compared to the planned 8% in the mining project; we are hopeful we will complete the mining and power plant project in 38 months.

2,700 MW by 2020

The original target was to finish by October 2019 but now it will finish by 3rd June 2019, according to the CEO. He added that Pakistan will be making 2,700 MW of electricity through the coal reserves by December 2020. The tariff for power generated through coal would be intially around 10 cents per unit which will drop to 6 cents per unit in eight years, owing to increased production of coal and falling prices.

The project has become a part of CPEC with China providing for 54.5% of the total costs for the project.

Need for investment in Thar region for locals

Sindh government would receive a 2.5% royalty from the coal produced from Thar. This amounts to $7-8 million per year, initially, which will increase to Rs. 3-3.5 billion in the future. SECMC CEO says that they have requested the Sindh government to invest the royalty towards the betterment of the Thar region. To help eradicate the poverty and health issues aside from the lack of basic facilities plaguing the region.

He added that they had hired unskilled manpower from Thar and had them train at well reputed institutes. Presently skilled workers are working on the project.

A techie, Overwatch and Street Fighter enthusiast, and Editor at ProPakistani.

    • There is tech which can convert CO2 into stones. Like you can make bricks or tiles. Its expensive for now. But I think it can help controlling coal related pollution.

      • It is not expensive at all and these kind of bricks are very famou sin the world especially in pakistan now days Olympia Chemicals in Khushab is making these bricks and selling as commercially , They are burning coal and as a bi-product they are making bricks out of ti which are not expensive.

        • I was talking about creating bricks from CO2 which goes directly into air. That technology is developed in some country in EU. They are still improving it. I don’t know the exact country but I watched the video few weeks ago.

          • I am not sure about this technology as from coal which is burning inside kiln of soda plants now days being used making bricks.

    • for the time being pakistan needs cheap power generation and coal power plants are ideal for cheap power generation.We don’t have other options because they are expensive for Pakistan right now.Insha’Allah in the future if our economy becomes strong we can decrease our reliance on coal and opt for Solar,Wind etc.But for the time being we have few options and coal is the most viable because of large reserves.
      BTW China is constructing Coal Power Plants which are highly efficient and More Environment friendly.(Like The use of New Tech Francis Type Turbines)

    • Thank you Raheel Sharif. Thank you Imran Khan…please “pressure” rakhna and one day we will be Asian tiger.

      • Yes Pakistan is going to be Asian Tiger Inshah Allah in next 2-5 years.

        GDP is increasing and will touch to 6-8%, inflation is controlled, infrastructure, airports, roads, hospitals, schools are being upgraded.

        To build their future youth need to concentrate and focus on work rather than to indulge in Politics

        I see peace, prosperity and bright future of Pakistan.

  • I’m really trying to be happy about this, but being a Lahori and looking out the window towards the blanket of smog, I just can’t. On one hand we really need the power, but I can’t help but think this comes at too great a cost.

    Also, Pakistan is a signatory on the Paris accords, so we can’t realistically burn coal for a 100 years. As far as I remember, we only have a few years (a decade at most) to reduce our emissions or face international penalties.

  • USA, India and china all are producing electricity from coal and more than 50% are on coal. We don’t have other source of generating electricity so cheap, we don’t have well of oils.

  • کریڈٹ گیم ہمیں کہاں لے جائے گی … یہاں کام کوئی کرتا ہے کریڈٹ لینے قبروں سے مردے بھی نکل آتے ہیں

  • IMHO, this article is grossly inaccurate. This was my research topic in university. While, there may be huge, huge reserves of coal in Thar, we must understand that its primarily lignite, an inferior quality coal. Additionally, its high in sulphur and moisture content. The only plausible way to generate electricity from this coal is through underground gasification process. Unfortunately, the experiment failed. There is huge ingress of sea water in the coal bed available in Thar and the gasification process couldn’t even start. Dr. Samar Mubarak and his team made efforts but all remained futile. As for mining, its economically not feasible. Mining lignite and using it in coal fired power plants is almost impractical. Further to this, the overhead is way too high, almost 50-60 meters, which would cost a lot to extract coal. Then comes sulphur and moisture. Together, these amount to 45% of the extracted coal. In simple words, you’d have to shelve half the coal you extract from the bed. In such a scenario, it makes little economic and practical sense. The gasification process was too ambitious and could very well have been a potential game changer. Unfortunately, that too couldn’t materialise. We can hope that with the advancement in technology and new ways, we might be able to infact go ahead with gasification process in future. Gasification process, if and when it becomes operational, would not only provide us with electricity, but also natural gas (methane) and high speed diesel for years to come.

    • ڈاکٹر ثمر مبارک مند پہلے ٢٠ سال جھوٹ بولتا رہا کہ ایٹم بم اس نے بنایا جبکہ ساری دنیا کو پتا ہے کہ وہ کس کا کارنامہ تھا …. اس چوتیے نے بہت سال تھر پر بھی کام کیا نتیجہ صفر اس بابے کو اب اپنی ناکامیوں پر خود کشی کر لینی چاہے

  • Great Work, Interestingly when in past Pakistan Govt apply for loan from IMF/World Bank/Asian Development Bank all denied because they know, if Pakistan developed its coal into power units then this country will no longer be our customer. Thanks God and China, who helped Pakistan after 15 years to make this dream into reality.

    All the propaganda and news which claims that the earth destroy etc created by our real enemy India which have lot of coal plants already.

    Inshallah, Now Pakistan and its people see real shining and brighter Pakistan.

  • China has stopped building coal power plants. They faced a huge smog issue which lasted a long time. This is why they are moving towards clean energy and are helping industries with a fund so they can also switch.

  • If no coal what other options do we have as country…..? As regards low grade coal and and subsequent release of Sulphur dioxide gas, anthropogenic sources accounts for much lesser air pollution as does the natural ones in the form of volcanic eruptions….. I think Pakistan should go with the options available in the form of coal…. When the prices of solar related technologies drops….gradually shifting to that would be viable option economically.

  • DON’T make it another Kalabagh Dam!!!!!!! US energy is on 70% coal, if is good for them than is good for us…

  • if the project is complete and burning of coal starts, then we’ll be dead soon. by the way, they’ll also clear the trees to mine coal.

  • those who saying “this will destroy the nature” should first go and see how much percent of electricity in USA,china and India accounts for there total generation… when these counties are more financially sable than Pakistan and are pseudo liberals, who cant see Pakistan progressing showing the love for nature are trying to do the same with Thar and cpec what they did with Kalabagh Dam

  • I am not one of those guys who tend to find negativity in everything BUT living in Lahore and breathing through thick SMOG couple weeks ago i dunno how i should take this. Coal is the cheapest source of electricity but also the most polluted.

    Electricity will be useless if there is no fresh air to breath in the next 20-30 years or so.

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