Saving $6 bln on fuel imports, Thar Coal project to prove as game-changer: PM

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THAR: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday said amid the skyrocketing fuel prices, the cheaper energy production from the Thar Coal Mines project would prove as a game-changer of development for the entire country.

The Thar Coal Project, he said, could help the government save up to $6 billion as the expenditure on the import of energy including petrol and liquid petroleum touched $24 billion.

Addressing the inauguration of the commercial operations of Phase-II of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) during his visit to Thar Coal Mines Block-II, the prime minister said the Thar Coal project was high on the agenda for the government in view of the reduced cost of power generation.

The prime minister on the occasion inaugurated a 330 MW Power Plant of Thar Energy Limited (TEL) and also inspected the construction site of SECMC Mine Phase-II at Islamkot.

PM Sharif said not benefitting from the country’s indigenous coal reserves was a huge mistake and announced to convene a meeting of stakeholders on Thar Coal mines next week to discuss formalities.

He said the federal government in collaboration with the Sindh government would chalk out a policy framework on the Thar Coal mines project, with an objective to connect it with other rest of coal-powered power plants in the country producing 4,000 megawatts.

He mentioned the international cost of coal had come down from $67 to $44 and had prospects of further reduction up to $ 30.

The coal-powered plants, he said, would prove a feasible operation for electricity production at the rate of Rs 10 per unit.

The prime minister said Thar Coal project would save the country’s foreign exchange and help thrive the national economy.

On March 2023, he said, the Thar Coal Mines project would be connected through a freight rail track for the transportation of coal to other parts of the country.

He lauded the Sindh government, Hubco, the government of China, and the Chinese companies for training the local professionals and workers, and also appreciated the women working in the field including at water plants and dumping trucks.

He expressed satisfaction that Thar was undergoing fast development after former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto first visited the area in 1996 and envisioned a prosperity plan for the locals.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Thar, once used to be known for malnutrition, and infant and maternal mortality rate had now emerged as a game changer and a public-partnership model of development.

He mentioned that the Thar Coal Mines project had contributed to the provision of job opportunities to the local people of Thar, thus improving their lifestyles.

He said under public-partnership projects, the barren desert of Thar was now witnessing crop irrigation and fish breeding even with the use of hard water.

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