Coal, Granite and other Mineral Resources of Thar

Coal, Granite, China Clay and other Resources of Thar

The Geological Survey of Pakistan organized a workshop on the Coal, Granite and other Mineral Resources of Thar on May 31, 2005 at Karachi in collaboration with Sindh Coal Authority. Workshop was well attended by eminent geoscientists from all over the country. This event was dedicated to Dr. N. M. Khan and Dr. Farhat Hussain, former Director Generals of the department. The Secretary Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources was the chairman and the Sindh Minister for Mine and Minerals Development, Mr. Irfan ullah Marwat was the Chief Guest. Pakistan is faced with a serious energy crises. It is widely known that the present level of energy generation in the country is far short of that which is necessary to sustain the rate of industrial growth and satisfy growing consumer requirements. In the energy based societies of today, every indigenous source of energy must therefore be tapped and put to optimum use. Pakistan has considerable oil, gas, coal reserves; tidal, solar and hydel potential. It is ironic that Pakistan has fourth largest coal reserves in the world but it is importing 2.5 million tons of coal per annum for cement industry. At the same time, due to high cost of energy resources, the government has also decided to enhance the share of coal in the overall energy mix from 5 % to 18% up to 2018. Among the other alternative sources, coal is the man source for producing cheaper electricity and its availability is much higher. In view of anticipated shortfall of electricity and other energy resources during the next 10 years, demand for indigenous coal would grow in power generation considerably.

Pakistan has emerged as one of the leading country - seventh in the list of top 20 countries of the world after the discovery of huge lignite coal resources in Sindh. The economic coal deposits of Pakistan are restricted to Paleocene and Eocene rock sequences. Economists say that the energy demand over the next 5 years is expected to grow at a rate of 7.4 % per annum. It may be noted that in India the share of coal is as high as 54.5% in the total energy mix. To meet the future requirements of the country with indigenous resources, domestic exploration would have to be intensified to increase the share of coal from 5 to 25% by 2020. The GSP’s workshop provided a platform to highlight the role of the indigenous resources in the national economy especially in energy and industry.

Coal -the black gold, is found in all the four provinces of Pakistan. Country has huge coal resources, about 185 billion tons, out of which 3.3 billion tons are in proven/measured category and about 11 billions are indicated reserves, the bulk of it is found in Sindh province. The current total mine-able reserves of coal are estimated at 2 billion tones (60 % of the measured reserves). The speakers at this moot enlightened the audience with the importance of Thar coalfield and its development and utilization as less expensive fuel for power generation and other process industry. Because of Thar coal’s extraordinary importance for power generation, industrial development and economy, Sindh government and GOP are making all out efforts to develop this huge deposit for power purpose. It is one of the world’s largest lignite deposits discovered by GSP in 1992, spread over more than 9, 000 sq. kms. comprise around 175 billion tones sufficient to meet country’s fuel requirements for centuries. Pre-feasibility study to utilize this coal resource for 2x300 MW indigenous, mine mouth, coal fired power plants has been completed. Hydrogeological investigations over an area of around 650 sq. kms. have also been completed. Estimated lignite deposits in Sindh, suitable for electric power generation and other applications are around 218 billion tons- about 98% of coal deposits of the country. A feasibility study on coal gasification has been undertaken and the gasification of coal was found feasible where the gas has to travel less in pipelines. Exploration of Thar coal will supplement the existing energy output in the country and will give boost to the economy of Sindh province. The GSP had successfully completed coal resources evaluation in the four specific tracts/ blocks of Thar coal field. The evaluation study of the GSP consisted of drilling 167 bore holes with a cumulative depth of over 50, 000 meters and chemical analyses of more than 2, 000 coal samples. On the basis of these studies, the required coal potential of a minimum of 500 million tons in each block has been established by the GSP. The recent studies on coal bed methane (CBM) proposed to be carried out in Thar will enhance the value of this deposit.

The GSP has met the challenge of identifying the coal resource available to meet the energy needs, to reduce dependence on its fast depleting supply of natural gas and lessen the oil import bill. This workshop focused on technological developments with respect to coal exploration, extraction, handling, transportation and utilization that could accelerate future development of Pakistan’s coal. It is hoped that GSP’s workshop will be fruitful in determining whether institutional, infrastructural and policy changes are needed to encourage exploitation of indigenous coal resources and would evaluate potentially attractive business opportunities associated with further coal development in the country. The workshop was attended by an assorted audience comprising earth scientists, city planners, government functionaries and researchers. A brief on coal deposits of Sindh compiled by S.G.Abbas and Muhammed Atiq was also distributed on this occasion among all the delegates.

Courtesy : Geological Survey of Pakistan (

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