Barapukuria may run out of coal in 3 years

Shamim Jahangir

11 September, 2018 12:00 AM printer

Coal extraction from the country’s lone active coalfield at Barapukuria might come to an end in three years due to the depletion of reserve in the existing mining basin, sources said.

“We’ll be able to produce 24 lakh tonnes of coal in the next three years. The deal with the mining firm will expire in August 2021,” a top official of Barapukuria Coal Mining Company told the told daily sun on condition of anonymity.

Coal extraction from Barapukuria will face a major setback after 2021 and the government will have to explore new coal seam to continue the production in the coalfield, said the official.

“It’s high time to take a decision on the expansion of Barapukuria coalfield,” he added.

Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Limited (BCMCL) Managing Director Md Fazlur Rahman said they are conducting a feasibility study on the expansion of coal basin at Barapukuria.   

The study will help identify the viability of the extension of the existing underground mining operation toward the southern and the northern side of the basin within an area of 10 square kilometres.

“We’ll get the final report [of the study] at the end of this month,” he said.

The existing coal deposit stretches over the area of 2.4 square kilometres. 

With the expansion, another around 10 million tonnes of coal could be extracted from the southern part of the coal mine that might contain a reserve of 62 million tonnes of coal, sources said.

Initial findings from the feasibility study indicate that expansion toward the northern side will not be a viable though the site is near the existing mining operation site.

“We’re seeing a prospect of only 4 million tonnes from the northern basin,” an official said.

The mining authorities resumed coal extraction in Barapukuria on Saturday aiming to feed its 525MW coal-based power plant.

Coal production at Barapukuria was suspended on July 20, 2018 due to the shift to a new coal seam. Labour unrest also contributed to the halt in coal production.

The BCMCL managing director said they are expecting to produce 2,000 tonnes of coal a day after production resumes.

“Coal production will reach 2,000 tonnes a day in the next 20 days,” he said, adding that the monthly production will increase to 80,000 tonnes over the next few months.

Electricity generation in Barapukuria power plant shut was shut down two days into the suspension of coal production.

Three units of Barapukuria Power Plant, having a capacity to generate 525MW of electricity, require at least 4,500 tonnes of coal every day for power generation.

But, the coal mine will be able to supply only 3,000 tonnes of coal a day when its production will begin in full swing, still leaving a shortfall of around 1,500 tonnes daily.

An official said the coal-based plants will experience a shortfall of around 5.47 lakh metric tonnes of coal a year, adding that the government will have to import more coal to feed the power plants.