Pakistan to save up to $6bn on fuel imports with Thar coal project: PM Shehbaz

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday termed the Thar coal project as a “game changer” following its potential to help the government save up to $6 billion on fuel imports amid its rising prices in Pakistan.

The premier shared his views during his visit to the Thar Coal Mines Block-II following the inauguration of the commercial operations of Phase-II of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC).

PM Shehbaz said that in the midst of the soaring prices of fuel, low-priced energy production via the Thar coal mines project will trigger development across the country.

He said that the expenditure on petrol and liquid petroleum imports touched $24 billion. The premier added that the project was high on the government’s agenda given the decreased cost of power generation.

In Thar’s Islamkot Tehsil, PM Shahbaz inaugurated a 330 MW Power Plant of Thar Energy Limited (TEL) and also inspected the construction site of SECMC Mine Phase-II.

The premier said it was a huge mistake to not have taken advantage of the country’s indigenous coal reserves. To discuss formalities, he announced convening a meeting of stakeholders on Thar coal mines next week.

The prime minister added that the federal government, in collaboration with the Sindh government, would chalk out a policy framework on the coal mines project with an aim to connect it with other coal-powered power plants in the country producing 4,000 megawatts.

He added that the cost of coal was expected to reduce up to $30 with prices in the international markets coming down from $67 to $44.

Coal-powered plants, the prime minister said, would prove a feasible operation for electricity production at the rate of Rs10 per unit and that the coal project would save Pakistan’s foreign exchange, as well as help, thrive the national economy.

The premier said that the project would be connected through a freight rail track for the transportation of coal to other parts of the country in March 2023. He appreciated the role of stakeholders in training local professionals and workers, and also lauded the inclusion of women working in the field, particularly at water plants and dump trucks.