Four coal blocks in Thar to be put up for international bidding

KARACHI: The Sindh government is expected to attract investment of around $4-6 billion by auctioning four new mining blocks of Thar coal reserves and handing over management of Thar airport to a private firm.

Provincial Energy Minister Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh took the decision during a meeting of Sindh Coal Authority. The meeting approved international bidding for four new blocks in Thar coalfield. It was decided to immediately start coal mining from the new blocks.

China’s state-owned firm Shanghai Electric Power Company Limited (SEC), which will likely invest over $2 billion in Thar coal mining and a coal-fired power project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), has recently kicked off civil works on the second mining block. The company would officially announce the launch of the project soon.

Energy secretary informed the meeting that Saudi Arab expressed interest to invest in a project to convert Thar coal into gas and use the fuel for making fertiliser. “We, along with the federal government, are currently negotiating the project with Saudi government,” he said.

Shanghai Electric, in collaboration with Sino-Sindh Resources Limited (SSRL), has already started mining work in block-II. The state-owned firm would invest over $2 billion in coal mining and setting up a 1,320-megawatt coal-fired power plant at the mine’s mouth, the minister said.

The Sindh Coal Authority’s meeting was further told that the Civil Aviation Authority licenced the authority to operate Mai Bakhtawar Airport (formerly Islamkot International Airport) located near Mithi. It was decided to outsource the airport operation to a company through open bidding. The operation is to be run under private-public partnership mode.

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