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Engro in talks with India for technology transfer

Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) is in consultations with the Indian companies for technology transfer to conduct open cast mining of Thar coal, said Shamsuddin Ahmed Shaikh, chief executive officer of SECMC on Friday.

India is digging out 550 million tons of coal every year from the coalfields in Rajasthan and others, which were quite similar to Thar, he said.

“It is better to acquire technology and expertise from the neighbouring country instead of opting for European companies,” said Shaikh.

The senior management of SECMC would visit India soon to discuss technical collaboration, equipment procurement and coal export to India, said Shaikh, adding that Tata Power and BHIL had expressed keen interest in forming collaborations with them.

SECMC plans to setup a 1,200MW coal-powered power plant in Thar and open cast mining of coal, envisaging an investment of $3 billion.

Shaikh said that the circular debt among several other issues is creating problems in securing the financing but once the funds were arranged, it would take four years for the commercial power production.

The Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company Limited is a joint venture between the Sindh government and Engro Powergen, to mine coal from Thar Block II.

Although the project is in its early stages of technical and economic feasibility assessments, the company aims at utilising ample reserves of Thar coal for power generation.

The government has decided that only Thar coal would be used for coal-based power generation in the future and all conversions of existing and construction of new power projects would be designed on Thar coal specifications, he said.

The landmark policy decision was taken by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, while chairing a meeting of the Thar Coal and Energy Board at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat on October 3. The Sindh government has requested the federal government that the conversion of the existing 800MW and new 600MW power plants at Jamshoro be designed on Thar coal specifications. The policy decision will ensure energy security that has been eluding the country for such a long time.

The Thar coal field is estimated to have reserves of 175 billion tons, 68 times higher than Pakistan’s total gas reserves.

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