China has stepped up construction work in Pakistan’s largest coalfield as tensions intensify between China and Australia, its biggest source of coal, according to a report published in Nikkei Asian Review.
Earlier this month, after a few months of delay because of the Coronavirus pandemic, 500 workers of Shanghai Electric Power reached Pakistan to resume work on the $1.9 billion Thar Block-I integrated coal mine and the power project situated in Tharparkar.
Thar Block-I project holds great significance in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a key part of the much bigger Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Once operational, the project will supply 6.8 million tons of lignite, soft brownish coal, annually to two 660 MWs power plants. One of the power plants will be completed in August 2022 while the other will be inaugurated in February 2023.
The Thar coalfield stretches over 9,000 sq. km and has an estimated 175 billion tons of coal reserves, making it the 7th biggest coalfield in the world.
China, the world’s largest coal consumer, decided to ramp up development work on the Thar Block-I project after a diplomatic row with Australia converted into a trade war following the Australian Prime Minister’s call for an independent investigation into the Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan in late December last year.
National Development and Reform Commission, China’s main state planning body, has also directed state-owned utility companies not to import thermal coal from Australia.
This story was originally written by Mifrah Haq and published in Nikkei Asian Review.