Cement maker to burn Thar coal on trial basis.

KARACHI -- Coal mined from Thar fields is going to be used by Power Cement Ltd as part of a trial run, Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company Ltd (SECMC) said on Wednesday.

Speaking to Dawn, SECMC CEO Amir Iqbal said his company previously let Bestway Cement Ltd use the locally mined fuel for cement manufacturing - an experiment that yielded a 'positive result'.

The memorandum of understanding will allow Power Cement to burn Thar coal in its kilns to assess the potential of shifting from imported to locally sourced fuel and reduce costs.

JS Global Assistant Vice President Waqas Ghani told Dawn that coal imports, except those from Afghanistan, are currently on hold. The country is in the middle of a dollar shortage, which has brought the imports of the key raw material for cement makers to a halt.

'Cement producers are using mostly Afghan coal. In some cases, they're sourcing it from either Dara Adamkhel or Dukki, Balochistan,' Mr Ghani said. Thar coal is cheaper than all other types of coal, but its heating value is not that high, he said.

According to Mr Iqbal of SECMC, there's no excess output from the current mining operations that the company can spare for cement makers regularly.

However, expansion is already underway and the company will have 'three to four million tonnes' of additional coal in the fourth phase of its mine development. SECMC is planning to sell that additional output in the fourth phase to cement makers, he said.

Being the only company that's mining the Thar fields, SECMC extracted 3.8m tonnes of coal annually and sold its entire output to Engro Powergen Thar until recently. It doubled its mining capacity to 7.6m tonnes per year last year, which coincided with the commissioning of the 330-megawatt Thar Energy plant. Another power producer of 330MW, ThalNova Power Ltd, recently started producing electricity, ensuring 100 per cent...

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