Geo invesitgates Thar Coal Project

Thar Coal is one of the 5th largest coal reserve in the world having a total reserve of 850 Tillion cubic fee which can possibly enable us to produce enough electricity to power the entire country of Pakistan with for the next 40-50 years if not more. The reserves are so massive that it dwarfs the oil reserves of 375 billion barrels housed within Saudia Arab & Iran put together.

Geo News investigative team at Band File investigated this issue a few days back, its definitely an eye opener. With the hope that Thar coal does not become something like the Reko Diq mystery



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21 responses to “Geo invesitgates Thar Coal Project”

  1. Salman Asghar Avatar

    we wont get anything from the reserves of Pakistan until and unless our politicians stop corruptions….as the petrol companies are paying quite well to these politicians!!

    The they stop getting from petrol companies, from next dayThar project will fully start!

  2. faisal Avatar

    Band file is one of the incomplete programs only started for black mailing.

    Like you see the first episode and look at power minister (1997-1999) blaming others, while program is based on the ignorance of his government time.

    Then the host did not asking any time line questions from planning commission chairman…

    complete bull shit program…

  3. Khurram Avatar

    Well looks like Mr AtoZ is getting ready to profit from Coal reserves of pakistan. The next govt, after AtoZ will talk about solar energy, and the next after it will talk about bio- fuel. Therefore, status quo is the same, the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer.

    Unless a private company comes in and buys the land and gives some kind of royalty or share to the govt of Pakistan I don’t see any of these projects being completed in an other 100 years. Make the energy companies quasi- govt owned companies.

    Pakistani Govt. has a history of debt which it owes to monsters like IMF. They will never succeed and capably run the affairs of an energy company. Just my two Cents…

  4. dr jawwad khan Avatar
    dr jawwad khan


    we live in a dajjali system….no matter how much we pray,no matter how bigger our beards are and no matter how much dark is the mark of prayers in our forehead, we are followers of dajjal.


    because according to ahadith e the time of arrival of dajjal no one could get benefit from good amount of seasonal crops and other natural resources…

    we live in the country where trucks loaded with sugar cane waiting for 48hrs for their turn to sell their sugar cane and yet we have a shortage of sugar…

    we live in a country of "BUMPER CROPS" of wheat yet a common man have a shortage of flour forcing him to purchase the flour unsuitable for animals on higher price.

    and the list goes on…

    now the good news given by our bastard PM that pakistanis have to face the shortage of water(in country with the best canal system) gas(in a country with enormous resources) and ofcourse the electricity…..



    1. Dr. Jogindar Sing Al Avatar
      Dr. Jogindar Sing Al

      Sir it is not only fishy it is khagga muchi that is going on

    2. dr jawwad khan Avatar
      dr jawwad khan

      Why khagga machhi?

      Why not Rahu or Palla?

  5. guYasir Avatar

    Dr JK

    You are absolutely right.. I wanna say that Shame on our govt since Ayub to Zardari…A2Z are A$$-wholes.

    They are serving their masters malignant agenda no matter they lost their brother, sister, father, mother, wife or anyone else but they made a pact in turn to gain material wealth.

    All famine are orchestrated by the US/EUK under supervision of our govt who are giving them sugar, wheat and everything related to food which is creating famine.

    The election legitimize an illegitimates thru NRO backed by US/EUK in order to make us accomplices to govt who are deeply corrupt and immoral elite. Z is there becuz US/EUK wanna make us more poor and wanna hold their strings on sub-continent every issues…U.S/UASS sounds similar..say so

    Whoever is with them is a traitor, impostor, debaucher, perverse and as well as A$$-whole like A2Z

  6. abbas Avatar

    it saddens me that not a single person has brought up the issue of climate change if they end up using these resources. the damage to the climate would be catastrophic. instead of spending our energy in lobbying to use coal reserves, we should be lobbying for research and development in alternate fuel sources with zero carbon emissions. this is a wasteful endeavour harmful to our people and nation.

  7. Zahoor abbasi Avatar
    Zahoor abbasi

    THAR COAL – Sindh/Engro joint venture.

    Although the Govt. of Sindh needs to be commended for its effort for creating a Private/Public sector partnership with Engro for Development of Thar Coal, however, serious technical, administrative and financial cost issues remain, which need to be clarified and addressed, in the public interest.

    The key issue is, will this project really happen or will it will fizzle out like all other such projects that came before it. The Sindh/Engro project depends on (a) completion of a new feasibility study acceptable to Engro (b) Availability of 350 cusecs (cubic feet per second) water from the Indus River System for the operation of the Power Plant.

    Firstly, what was logical reason for selection of block 2 of Thar coal field for the Sindh/Engro project, whereby new feasibility studies have to be undertaken which will take three more years and cost Millions of additional Dollars? Instead of selecting block 1, which has already been thoroughly studied at a cost of over 250 million already paid by the Govt, for which a very comprehensive report by Rheinbraun/RWE Power is on file with Govt. of Sindh since 2004.

    This study of Block 1 of Thar coal field confirms proven reserves of 1 Billion tons, whereas only 180 Million tons of coal will be needed to operate a 1000 MW power plant for a duration of 30 years, the various coal seams start at around 450 feet depth and occur up to 600/650 feet, there are 3 ground water aquifers of which the base aquifer is significant and highly pressurized, the only viable option is Open Cast/open Pit Mining by dewatering these aquifers.

    A state of the art mathematical model simulating Thar coal project area ground water conditions employing the “Finite volume method” has been used to formulate a dewatering plan for Block 1. This same modeling method has been successfully used in European open pit mines and predicts the amount of water to be pumped in order to make the mining operations safe and workable.

    The following quality parameters also stand evaluated for block 1 of Thar field:

     Coal Quality Lignite

     Ash (avg) 7%

     Sulphur (avg) 1.4%

     Moisture (as received) 48%

     Heating Value (as received) 5140 Btu/Lb.

     Moisture (final) 12%

     Heating Value (dry) 10280 Btu/Lb

    Important Civil and Geotechnical Engineering, Financial and other criteria needed to assess feasibility of an open pit mine and Power Plant for block 1 have already been established, including, identification of the geologic units, shear strengths, slope stability analysis, cut slope inclinations, stripping ratios, siting of inside and outside dumping areas, siting of Power Plant, siting the township, conceptual mine design, dewatering plan, waste water treatment, best types of equipment to use, power generation and distribution issues, a full financial analysis etc. have been established for Block 1 and a project for this block has been ready for final design and construction since 2004, and work can be started immediately.

    Investment Capital Demand estimates for Mining and a 1000 MW Power Plant.

    This huge difference needs to be explained in the public interest.

    $1.5 Billion is a staggering amount to be paying extra and for what?

    Estimated Capital Demand of Sindh/Engro for Block 2 $3.3 Billion.

    Estimated Capital Demand for Block 1 $1.8 Billion.

    Block 2 will cost $1.5 Billion extra, which is 83% higher than the Block 1

    This huge cost difference needs to be understood in public interest.

    Sindh/Engro project is dependent on being provided with 350 cusecs (Cubic feet per second) water from the Indus river irrigation system, for which the Govt. of Sindh has sanctioned 176 million Rupees for a feasibility study. Prequalification of Consultants has been advertised by the Dept. of Mines and Minerals under the World Bank Technical Assistance Program.

    There is a chronic water shortage in Sindh, 350 cusecs is a sizable quantity of water, where is this water going to come from for the Sindh/Engro coal project?

    The Coal project is located near Islamkot in the Thar Desert, which is outside the Sukkur Barrage Command Zone; the nearest source of Indus water is Jumrao Canal which is a branch of Nara Canal, which in turn draws its water from Sukkur Barrage. Due to siltation of the Canals and degradation of the 77 year old regulatory system, water carrying capacity of both the Nara Canal and Jumrao Canal stands diminished.

    In order to meet agriculture demand these canals are forced to carry water beyond their current capacity. It will be very difficult if not next to impossible for either of these Canals to carry an additional 350 cusecs of water for Thar coal development without massive remodeling of both Canals and their regulatory systems. This will cost Billions and at least 10 years.

    Islamkot is topographically located at a higher elevation than the canal system, conventional gravity channel flow of water to the coal project is not possible, the water (if it was even available) will have to be pumped upslope, the Capital and Operational costs will be prohibitive and with current electricity shortfalls in the country, where will the power for the pumps come from?

    Govt of Sindh and the World Bank may spend 176 Million on this feasibility study, but no one should be under the illusion that 350 cusecs (cubic feet per second) of extra water will magically appear from the Indus river system and will be easily and economically transported to Islamkot to give us coal based power. This study will be a waste of time and money. Sponsors of this study should reconsider this commitment in view of the overall facts.

    The real concern is that after all the money is spent on studies and 3 years of time lost, if water cannot be provided from the Indus river system or if Engro for any reason deems the project unfeasible, it will be back to square one for Thar Coal, minus a lot of money and time.

    Development of block 1 of Thar field by this Sindh/Engro venture would have been ideal; it would have saved time and money. New feasibilities would not be required. Actual work could be started immediately. Perhaps it is not too late.

    Bringing Indus River water for the Thar Power Plant appears neither economically nor practically viable. A technically superior and cost effective alternative would be to recover excess moisture from the coal and use that for plant operation. A closed circle cooling cycle Power Plant must be selected, this type of a plant doesn’t waste water but re-circulates and reuses the same water over and over and is considered ideal for arid environments where water is scarce. Thar coal quality is classified as lignite with high moisture content; this is not a liability but a huge practical asset given the scarcity of water in the desert.

    Before being fed into the power plant boilers, Thar lignite coal @ 48% moisture will be made to pass through a drying plant whereby the moisture content will be reduced to 12% and the drying plant will condense and recover water as shown.

    Drying plant Lignite coal input @ 48% Moisture 6.0 million tons/yr

    Drying Plant Lignite coal output @ 12%Moisture 3.6 million tons/yr

    Weight of Extracted water 2.4 million tons/yr

    84% Water recovery = 2 Million Tons/yr or 285 tons/ hour

    Based on 7,000 hours/year Power Plant operations the water consumption of the closed circle plant will be 1.8 million tons/ year or 257 tons/hour, water recovery of 285 tons/hour from coal exceeds the plant consumption requirements and therefore, no additional water will be needed.

    Lignite Coal drying not only provides water for the power plant but improves boiler efficiency, the heating value of the dry coal doubles from 5120 BTU/lb to 10240 BTU/lb; Operation and maintenance costs are reduced because of lesser volumes of coal being handled.

    Selection of a closed circle cooling cycle plant almost eliminates the need for large volumes of waste water disposal as the waste water is only 2% to 3% of what it would be with an open cycle plant.

    This technical information has been available with all the departments in Sindh dealing with Thar coal, namely, Department of Mines and Minerals, Planning and Development Dept, Sindh Coal Authority, Dept: of Coal and Energy, Thar Coal Energy Board (TCEB) and so on.

    Was this vital information for block 1 purposely withheld from the decision makers? Including the World Bank, If not, what was the justification for selecting block 2 for the Sindh/Engro project, at a significant additional cost to the nation, both in time and money. The public has a right to know.

    With best of intentions and a sincere desire to streamline things, the Government created “Thar Coal Energy Board” (TCEB) to be the sole lead agency for dealing with all issues pertaining to Development of Thar Coal.

    Government’s good intentions appear completely sabotaged and it is business as usual, with numerous departments of Sindh simultaneously dealing with Thar Coal issues, where the right hand sometimes doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Duplications upon duplications and ad-hoc decisions are causing huge financial losses and no uniform or coherent policy exists for Thar coal.

    Thar Coal Energy Board (TCEB) appears neutralized, the $36 Million World Bank Technical Assistance program for Thar Coal is being managed by Dept of Mines and Minerals and not by TCEB as may have been the government’s original intent. Consultants for Rs. 176 million water studies will also be selected, overseen and controlled by Dept of Mines and Minerals and strangely, the project will be

    executed by Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (SIDA). TCEB is nowhere in Sight and will have no control in the matter; this is ad-hocism at its best.

    SIDA is experiencing its own crises, masses of employees are being fired, Managing Directors change every 3 to 4 months, their own World Bank funded $175 Million WSIP 1 project is 2 years behind schedule. Should SIDA be burdened with the additional responsibility of Thar Coal as well?

    This is a very expensive, $3.3 Billion, complex, mega project; it needs to be taken seriously and cannot be successfully executed in an uncoordinated and ad-hoc manner by multiple Govt. departments. A course correction is required otherwise this whole exercise will most definitely fail, in which case the financial losses to the nation will be staggering and the invaluable Thar coal resource will remain where it has been for millions of years, buried below ground.

    Zahoor A. Abbasi

    Sr. VP, Delta Engineering, San Diego Pakistan contact # 0331 246 9248


    The writer is a USA based Civil and Geotechnical Engineer (Currently in Pakistan) who has worked in Thar Desert and is very familiar with the conditions affecting Thar coal. Open Pit mining is primarily a Geotechnical Engineering function. The intent of this article is not to criticize anyone but to educate and raise public awareness about a matter of great importance to this nation. The professional opinions offered herein are thoroughly researched and documented and are offered in good faith with intent to assist. I will defend these opinions in any debate, with anyone, at anytime and at any forum. In fact I look forward to this debate and challenge the decision makers to produce any expert for this purpose

  8. Suresh Kumar Heerani Avatar
    Suresh Kumar Heerani

    Pakistani leaders are doing politics on the 2nd largest Coal reserve of the world. They should to take it serious and think for the poor people of this richest country.

    1. Pardeep kumar Avatar
      Pardeep kumar

      You are right dear brother.If these reserves in any other country they mines and developed their project and the life of their people.But unfortunatly since 15 years we also listen that bla bla company generate 500Mg ,1000Mg but they are still on paper work.No any progress

  9. Meher Avatar

    The program is for information of pulic. The previous comment by Mr. Zahoor is very well informed. Why did they choose block2 when block 1 homework and feasability was done also a previously Chinese company had done all the work, they should have been invited. This Engro feasability will waste time(6 months) and also much money. I doubt if this will still pull off.


    Environment polluting Thar Coal Versus Environmental Freindly Kalabagh Dam.

    It is very strange to note that present Government is advocating for

    Air Polluting Thar Coal Project Versus Enviromental Friendly Kalabagh Dam.

     Kalabagh dam which will increase the water resources of the country is being opposed while Thar coal project,which will consume huge amount of water and will contaminate all water,air and land resources of Pakistan is being adovecated by the governement Clean electricity produced by Kalabagh dam will be available to every one citizen of the country while thar coal project will pollute all water,air and land resources of Pakistan for every one.Thar coal will effect each and every living organism while Kalabagh will not only store water for the time of need but with the generation of electricity will increase the resources of water by sucking up the underground water resources and will provide the clean electricity .

    Coal is one of the most polluting sources of energy available, jeopardizing our health and our environment. While Kalabagh Dams will have multiple advantages and will act as electricity power house,water reserevoir and floods preventor generate electricity,Store water,will improve fertility of lands.

    The Effects of Coal on the Environment

    Coal as a source of energy is probably the most environmentally damaging of all the traditional sources of energy.

    • Coal Power in a Warming World by Barbara Freese et al, published by the Union of Concerned Scientists in October 2008 states that “The underground mining of coal is a dangerous profession, and underground and surface mining are both highly damaging to landscapes, water supplies, and ecosystems”.

    • The Natural Resources Defense Council paper entitled “Coal in a Changing Climate”, issued in February 2007 claims that “Coal mining—and particularly surface or strip mining—poses one of the most significant threats to terrestrial habitats in the United States.”

    • Figures from "Key World Energy Statistics: 2008" show that coal is responsible for 42% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

    • “Coal in a Changing Climate” shows that coal produces large amounts of airborne toxic chemicals, including sulfur dioxide, mercury, nitrous oxides, arsenic and lead.

    Coal is a highly polluting energy source. It emits much more carbon per unit of energy than oil, and natural gas. CO2 represents the major portion of greenhouse gases. It is, therefore, one of the leading contributors to climate change. From mine to sky, from extraction to combustion — coal pollutes every step of the way. The huge environmental and social costs associated with coal usage make it an expensive option for developing countries. From acid drainage from coal mines, polluting rivers and streams, to the release of mercury and other toxins when it is burned, as well as climate-destroying gases and fine particulates that wreak havoc on human health, COAL is unquestionably, a DIRTY BUSINESS.

    1. dr jawwad khan Avatar
      dr jawwad khan

      pollution of hearts and minds are much devastating than the pollution of atmosphere.

  11. Azhar Saeed Avatar
    Azhar Saeed

    I would like to suggest GEO team that firstly they should add comments/referral from some authentic sources so that their report have some more creditablity,

    Secondly why dont you people put this question directly to the concern ministry and than use their reponse for public guess it would be much better an option…

  12. asad khan Avatar
    asad khan

    please can some one explains why underground mining is not suitable for thar?

    i know couple of mining experts in pakistan who says that it is possible to do underground mining in thar. please explain in detail. i will be gratful.


    On one side China and India are planning to curb the Carbon emmision by curbing the use of oil,coal and other fossil fuels,and Bangladesh and Maldives are crying for taking measures against rise of seas due to global warming and on other side we Pakistanies are planning to use Thar coal which will not only pollute the whole environment of South Asia but will infact endanger the life of peoples living in Kashmir,Northern areas,NWFP,PUNJAB and Sind as the direction of smoke and dangerous gases will be from east to north west of Pakistan.And people of these areas will suffer from respioratory diseases such as Asthma,Bronchitis and cancer, and people of these areas will suffer from dangers and adverse effects of somking without somking the cigarrets.

    Already Polluted Atmosphere of South Asia.

    South Asia is already suffering from the adverse effects of Brown cloud(Accumulation of Dirty gases in upper atmosphere of Subcontinent and is having negative effects on the heath of population of India and Pakistan ,Moreover there is already shortage of Ozone gas in the upper atmosphere of South Asia,due to which people of South Asia (India, Pakistan,Bangladesh and Sri Lanka ) are not having perfect healthy bodies as compared other reaces of the world.In view of such a bad condition of atmosphere burning the coal is just like to throw the people Pakistan into valley of death

    There are a number of adverse environmental effects of coal mining and burning, specially

    The glaciers of the Himalayas, Karakoram, Hindukush and Pamir ranges in Gilgit-Baltistan contribute significantly to the stream flow of the IBRS. More significantly, during the dry season these glaciers become the system’s only source. Impacts due to climate change on these glaciers have been studied in recent decades and vivid fluctuation of water flow in the Indus River Basin System has been reported.


    Due to flow of toxic gases and smoke from Thar Coal towards North and Western Pakistan,It is the responsibility of Jammu and Kashmir,Northern Areas,NWFP,Punjab and Sind Governments to review the adverse effects of Thar coal as it is the matter of life and death of the people of these areas.As unhealthy environment due to smoke and toxic gases will destroy the beauty of Vallies of Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan and will cause health problems such as cancer,asthma,bronchitis and other respiratory and genetic diseases due to environmental pollution in the people of Punjab,NWFP,Kashmir,Gilgit and Baltistan.

    Written By:M.AKRAM KHAN NIAZI.


    1. Ali6 Avatar

      The latest technology available and in use all over the developed countries, using coal for the significant need to generate power from coal, eliminates all concerns of emission  that could otherwise be damaging to the environment. If all those countries who care much more than we do, uses the coal and working to expand this source then why should we not tap into it in. i agree that while doing so we should also use the best of technology to minimize the issue of any emission. For more information just google clean coal energy.

  14. M. FARRUKH Avatar

    To meet energy demand in the country, it's necessary to utilize our all kinds of resources for nation development by keeping provincial fighting on side. as we r Pakistani not Sindhi Blochi or Punjabi. There is a need to utilize our coal as well as water resources at a same time in order to save country from energy shortage and water shortage as all people knows wheat means energy shortage,,,,,,,,,.

    According to World bank Pakistan is in the list of 17 countries facing swear water shortage around 2025. So new dams such as kalabagh, Bhasha and other large dams are also necessary for Pakistan. If some some probles occuring on dams desins it can be change by speciallists to minimize any fear of any province. So i think all resources of all provinces should be utilized honestly (especially Thar Coal and Kala Bagh dam)to make prosperity in country.

  15. adnan farooq Avatar
    adnan farooq

    hi i am adnan farooq i chalange all the political party an government give me one year. main pakistan ko etna strong kar sakta hun jitna yea government valy soch b nai sakty.