By Lucy EJ Woods
17 March 2017
(Climate Home) – Chinese investments are speeding up new coal developments in the Thar region of Pakistan, despite local water scarcity and pollution and an abundance of solar energy potential.
The CEO of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECM), Shamsuddin Ahmad Shaikh, said on Thursday that with government and investor support – particularly from China – its coal developments in Thar are running quicker than expected.
SECM is developing a 1,320MW coal power plant in Thar which is expected to be completed by June 2019.
Also under development is the Sino-Sindh Resources Limited (SSRL)’s open pit mine, which is expected to produce 6.5m metric tonnes a year. It will reach commercial operation as early as 2018. Coal from this pit will power a 1,320MW plant, expected to be operational by 2019.
Addressing a seminar in Karachi, Shaikh said that SECM can “considerably” reduce electricity costs to 6¢ per unit once its Thar coal production reaches a capacity of 4,000MW.
Thar’s provincial chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, said the coal projects will “change the face” of Pakistan’s biggest city Karachi and Sindh, the province in which Thar is located. […]
Thar is home to one of the largest coal deposits in the world, with 175 billion tons of coal over 9,000 square kilometres. However, Aware is campaigning for Thar coal reserves to remain in the ground.
Akbar says people are already feeling the effects of water scarcity and coal dust pollution due to mining activities. Gaining water in Thar is “a very difficult practice,” said Akbar. Animals are used to pull a rope, tied to a bucket. Sometimes the water that is left is 300ft deep, says Akbar.